Monday, 24 September, 2018

Israel Aims to Launch Moon Lander in December

The SpaceIL moon landing craft The SpaceIL moon landing craft
Frank Williams | 12 July, 2018, 12:22

Its first task will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, organizers said.

Since 1966, the United States and the former Soviet Union have put around 12 unmanned spacecraft on the moon using braking power to perform "soft" landings and China did so in 2013. At 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), it will be the smallest spaceship so far to make a lunar landing.

The unmanned, $88 million Israeli spacecraft will blast off on a Falcon 9 rocket made by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. The spaceship will be sent to the Cape Canaveral in the United States for its launch a month before that and is scheduled to land on the Moon on February 13, 2019.

The SpaceIL organization participated in the competition for the Google Lunar XC Prize.

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

"After eight challenging years, I am filled with pride that the first Israeli spacecraft, which is in its final construction and testing phases, will soon be making its way to the moon", said Kahn.

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. "And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the Moon".

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SpaceIL was the only Israeli contestant in the worldwide Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

In the coming months, the Israeli spacecraft will undergo intensive checks and tests at IAI to prove that it can withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions, said Anteby.

The SpaceIL craft is 1.5 meters (five feet) high and two meters in diameter, able to reach a maximum speed of more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) per second.

SpaceIL president Morris Kahn expressed his excitement for the project, saying that the launch of the spacecraft is a national accomplishment that can put the country in the world's space map.

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. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.

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

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.

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