Israel Plans to Land on Moon

Katie Ramirez
July 12, 2018

News Brief: SpaceIL, an Israeli team that was once a competitor in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize, says it will have its lander launched toward the moon in December.

An Israeli organisation said that it hopes to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon when it attempts to launch a module later this year. "It's about showing the next generation that anything is possible - that even our small country can push the limits of imagination".

SpaceIL is backed mainly by private donors, including USA casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and billionaire Morris Kahn who co-founded Amdocs, one of Israel's biggest high-tech companies.

The $US95 million ($AUD128 million) project, largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other donors, aims to land on the moon on February 13. "And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the Moon".

Approximately $88 million was invested in the spacecraft's development and construction.

An artist impression of the Israeli space craft landing on the moon.

"Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon", said Anteby. "I have experienced numerous challenges in my life, but this was the greatest challenge of all".

SpaceIL president Morris Kahn expressed his excitement for the project, saying that the launch of the spacecraft is a national accomplishment that can put the country in the world's space map. "When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon".

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SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub.

The SpaceIL organization participated in the competition for the Google Lunar XC Prize. Construction began at the IAI MABAT Plant previous year. The company undertook to launch its spacecraft this year, and has now announced its timetable for doing so.

The 2 meter-by-1.5 meter vehicle weighs 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds), making it the smallest spacecraft yet to touch down on the moon. The fuel it will carry will comprise some 75 percent of its total 600kg weight.

At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy. As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous. A final launch date will be announced closer to the event. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. In recent years, SpaceIL has ignited the imagination of about 900,000 children nationwide, with the help of a broad network of volunteers.

The other goal is to give birth to an "Apollo Effect" in Israel, mirroring the United States enthusiasm that encouraged scientists to continue their research after the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.

Screenshot from the Moon Kids website.

IAI, which is the home of Israel's space activity, has been a full partner in this project from its inception.

The mission pursues a goal: they want to learn more about the magnetic features of the moon rocks. "The State of Israel, which is already firmly planted in the realm of space in its military activity, must harness resources for the benefit of civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education and groundbreaking around the world".

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