First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 11, 2018

The research, conducted in cooperation with scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, will use a magnetometer on the spacecraft to attempt to understand how the rocks on the moon received their magnetism.

SpaceIL made the announcement at an Israel Aerospace Industries space technology site in Yehud on Tuesday, July 10, after month of preparations. The spaceship will be sent to the Cape Canaveral in the U.S. for its launch a month before that and is scheduled to land on the Moon on February 13, 2019.

It is expected to land on the Moon in February 2019.

An Israeli non-profit organisation has announced plans to send the first privately-funded unmanned spacecraft to the Moon later this year.

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries presented the new spacecraft, which took eight years of collaborative efforts, and $95 million to build the smallest aircraft to date. In May, China launched a relay satellite that will orbit the moon and allow it to receive signals from a planned probe that will land on the far side of the moon.

The Israeli spacecraft, about the size of a dishwasher, measure about 6.6 feet in diameter and about 1.65 feet in height.

"This is a tremendous project", Kahn said.

South African-born Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, who supplied funding for the project, said that he hoped that this mission would create the sort of enthusiasm that greeted the Apollo missions in the United States.

SpaceIL explained: "While the other Google Lunar X Prize teams developed large rovers to move the required 500 meters on the Moon's surface, in order to conserve mass, SpaceIL developed the idea of a space hop: to have the spacecraft land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500 meters away".

It will be launched via a rocket from American entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX firm and its mission will include research on the moon's magnetic field.

Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and USA megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL.

SpaceIL's project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered $30m (£23m) in prizes to inspire people to develop low-priced methods of robotic space exploration.

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