Israel announces mission to land spacecraft on the Moon

Israel announces mission to land spacecraft on the Moon

SpaceIL was the only Israeli contestant in the worldwide Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, which had offered a prize of $20 million to the first privately funded team to put a robot down on the moon, move it at least 1,650 feet and have it beam high-definition photos and video to Earth. "We worked together with the IAI team and SpaceIL team on very sophisticated engineering to get [it] all the way to the moon". "SpaceIL's moon mission is officially underway #SpaceIL".

The lunar landing would make Israel the fourth country - after Russian Federation, the United States and China - to put a craft on the surface of the moon.

The dimensions of the spacecraft are 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) high and 2 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter.

According to SpaceIL, once the spacecraft disengages from the launch rocket, it will begin orbiting Earth in continuously larger elliptical orbits.

Although this is an historic national achievement, it is essentially a private initiative by the three SpaceIL founders - Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub - who strived to fulfill the dream of reaching the moon, and registered for the challenging Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

Despite the setback SpaceIL continued developing its spacecraft, which is being built in co-operation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a state-owned firm.


A group of private Israeli companies are joining the race to return to the moon, after NASA's recent cancellation of a lunar mission and India's announcement that in October it will send a rover to look for signs of water and nuclear fuel. The spacecraft will land on the moon in February 2019. Building the spacecraft cost $95 million to date.

SpaceIL President Morris Kahn has donated about $27 million to the effort and made a decision to proceed even after the contest deadline passed and effectively ended without any finalists achieving the goal. SpaceIL was the first of 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors to sign a launch contract and one of only five teams to reach the finals.

Despite financial pitfalls in recent years that almost saw SpaceIL's spacecraft grounded permanently, the team is confident that December's launch will take place on time. It will then begin orbiting the moon, until the appropriate time to begin the landing process.

After landing, the craft will take photos and videos of the landing site and record the moon's magnetic field. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.

For children from any country, SpaceIL introduced its Moon Kids website in English, chock full of fun interactive content about the moon and outer space.

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