First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year
First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year
11 July, 2018, 11:34
Upon its landing on February 13, 2019, the spacecraft, carrying the Israeli flag, will begin taking photos and video of the landing site and will measure the moon's magnetic field as part of a scientific experiment conducted in collaboration with Weizmann Institute.
The project began when young engineers - Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub - chose to build a spacecraft and take part in the Lunar Xprize competition sponsored by Google, which originally included a $20 million prize for the first group of contestants to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The 585kg landing craft will piggyback on a SpaceX Falcon rocket to enter Earth's orbit, then slingshot around the planet several times to reach the moon.
Although the Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, Israel's team pledged to push forward.
So far it has spent about $88.5m, much of which it has received from the South African-born Israeli billionaire businessmen Morris Kahn.
If successful, Israel will be the fourth country to boast the prestige of touching down on the moon after the US, Soviet Russia, and China.
The overall cost of the project is estimated to be around $95 million.
"This is national history", said IAI director Yossi Weiss. "Earth is becoming small", and ultimately "the future of humanity is in space".
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That's one small achievement for the world, but one giant leap for Israel.
On the moon, the vessel will transmit data to the control centre at IAI for two days before its systems shut down. Kahn told journalists that he hoped to inspire young Israelis to take up the study of science. Its investors include Kahn, U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the Israel Space Agency.
"If we're going to continue being the start-up country we've got to get engineers".
"They say kids are excited by space, robots and dinosaurs".
Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and US megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL.
"Since we began you can see more and more start-ups and projects that deal with space in the civilian aspect", he said. Fuel will comprise 75 percent of its weight, which will be 180 kilograms on landing, less than any previous craft that landed on the moon, the company said.
A successful mission would be a significant achievement, giving scientists a relatively low-priced spacecraft for future experiments, said Tal Inbar, head of the Space & UAV Research Center at The Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzilya, Israel.
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