Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Israel to launch historic moon mission

Israel to launch historic moon mission

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned module in December, the teams announced Tuesday. If successful, the mission will make Israel the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon's surface, after the Soviet Union, the US and China.

Development and launch costs for the spacecraft amounted to $95 million, the necessary funds coming from private donations, including a crowdfunding campaign and a NIS 100 million (approximately $22 million) grant from Israeli businessman Morris Kahn.

SpaceIL began in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub made a decision to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, an worldwide contest with a $20 million prize for the first privately funded team that puts a small, mobile craft on the moon.

It is hoped that the mission will demonstrate that a spacecraft can be sent to the moon at low cost while inspiring scientific curiosity among young Israelis, much like the 1969 moon landing did in the United States.

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So far, only the US, Russia and China have landed spacecrafts on the moon. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December. The company undertook to launch its spacecraft this year, and has now announced its timetable for doing so. These were the words quoted when Neil Armstrong from the U.S. stepped on Moon for the first time.

Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group kept going with its project, gaining funding from various donors including Kahn and the Adelson family.

Organizers said that the spacecraft carrying the Israeli flag will take photos and videos of the landing site as well as record itself during the landing. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. The State of Israel, which is already firmly planted in the realm of space in its military activity, must harness resources for the benefit of civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education and groundbreaking around the world.

It might be a privately funded mission, but SpaceIL could be a national effort looking to raise interest in space travel throughout Israel. "Projects like the Google Lunar XPrize competition in space are needed to push humanity forwards". To date, 50,000 children have been reached by SpaceIL volunteers in classrooms around the world.

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