Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Israel To Launch First Moon Mission This Year

The SpaceIL lunar space craft The SpaceIL lunar space craft
Sandra Phillips | 13 July, 2018, 16:15

SpaceIL, in collaboration with the state-run Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), began working on the spacecraft as part of the Google Lunar X PRIZE, which offered a total of $30 million in prizes to "challenge and inspire engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to develop low-priced methods of robotic space exploration".

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

The IAI-built spacecraft, which was build in 2013, will be transferred to the United States in November, ahead of the launch.

Israeli billionaire and investor Morris Kahn (left) answers journalists' questions in front of a Israeli Aerospace Industries spacecraft during a news conference Tuesday to announce its launch to the moon, in Yehud, Eastern Tel Aviv.

Ido Anteby, SpaceIL's CEO, stands in front of an unmanned spacecraft in Yahud, Israel, on July 10.

SpaceIL participated in the Google Lunar XPrize competition, which wrapped up earlier this year with no ultimate victor. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 kilometers per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour). Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy.

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Israel, which is practically synonymous with cutting-edge technology, is finally set to join the very small club of countries who have traveled to the moon. If it does manage to reach the Moon, it will be the smallest craft to make a touchdown there. Then, upon receipt of a command from mission control, the craft will enter a higher-altitude elliptical orbit around our planet, which will reach a point near the moon, project team members said.

The first stage of the lander will hoist the Israeli flag on the moon, he explained.

"It's a small, smart spaceship", said SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby. Its two-month journey will start from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The competition officially ended with no victor on March 31, with Google announcing that it would no longer sponsor it.

The program has always had STEM education as a secondary goal, aiming to encourage Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

After succeeding in raising the critical funds to continue its activity, SpaceIL announced that it was determined to continue on its mission and to launch its spacecraft by the end of the year, regardless of the competition.

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