Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, told a news conference in the Israeli town of Yehud on Tuesday that its probe would be the smallest yet to land on the Moon.

If successful, Israel would become the fourth country to land a craft on the moon, after the US, the Soviet Union and China. The spacecraft, which weighs only about 600 kilograms, is considered the smallest to land on the moon.

South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, who has donated $27 million to the enterprise, was extremely excited: "The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride".

SpaceIL said the probe would be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in December on a Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk's SpaceX company.

Initially, this plan was part of a competition that Google set up called the Lunar XPrize.

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

The aim of the mission is not only to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon, but to inspire a future generation of Israelis to pursue careers in maths, science and engineering, said Joseph Weiss, IAI's president and chief executive.

The project culminated in the design of an Israeli lunar probe, which SpaceIL claimed would launch regardless of the contest's outcome.

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

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

Once it completes its mission, the spacecraft will remain on the moon, proudly displaying the flag of the State of Israel. Unlike bigger spacecraft that took four days to reach the moon, the smaller fuel capacity means SpaceIL must take an indirect way, orbiting the Earth to reach the moon, SpaceIL said.

"What we're doing is we're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States", Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the USA space program landed on the moon in 1969. It will then begin orbiting the moon, until the appropriate time to begin the landing process.

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.

In addition to taking photos on the surface of the moon, the spacecraft will measure its magnetic field at the landing site, using a magnetometer installed on it.

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

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