Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

Israeli scientists stand next to an unmanned spacecraft which an Israeli team plans to launch into space at the end of the year and to land it on the Moon next year in Yahud Israel

SpaceIL launched in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub partnered to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE-an global competition to put a small, mobile craft on the moon. The team says it will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the moon.

"Our mission was never about winning the prize money - although $20 million would have been nice", said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby.

Until now, only three world superpowers - the United States, Russia, and China - have achieved controlled lunar landings.

The unmanned, $88 million Israeli spacecraft will blast off on a Falcon 9 rocket made by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

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

"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space", said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president.

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.

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The SpaceIL lunar space craft. 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. December 2018- Launch, February 13, 2019- First Israeli spacecraft lands on the moon! Building the spacecraft cost $95 million to date. The spacecraft will orbit the Moon for nearly two months before landing, where it will record and send video and conduct some small science observations using a magnetometer. It has only two meters in diameter and is half a meter high.

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.

Dr Anteby said: "We will put the Israeli flag on the moon".

The probe weighs approximately 600kg on Earth but that weight will drop down to 180kg in the Moon's lower gravity pull.

Only then it will embark on its scientific mission, and will begin to take photos and videos of the landing site, and measure 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.

The spacecraft's design and development process, which involved intensive work of engineers, scientists and team members, began in 2013 and continued until past year, when its construction at the IAI MABAT Plant commenced.

Ofer Doron, director of Israeli Aerospace Industry Program with the space craft.

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