Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019


Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

The SpaceIL organization participated in the competition for the Google Lunar XC Prize. It will take about two months for the spacecraft to reach its destination after launch. The spaceship will be sent to the Cape Canaveral in the USA for its launch a month before that and is scheduled to land on the Moon on February 13, 2019.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries have raised $88 million (£$66 million, AU$118 million) primarily from private donors to fund the project over the past eight years. At 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), it will be the smallest spaceship so far to make a lunar landing.

Josef Weiss, IAI CEO said, "As one who has personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I regard the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the awesome capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity". Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 kilometers per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour).

An artist impression of the Israeli space craft landing on the moon.

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.

Anteby said the SpaceIL craft - bearing an Israeli flag - will disengage from the launch rocket at an altitude of 60,000 kilometers (37,282 miles) and will begin orbiting Earth in elliptical orbits.

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

At this point, the lander will ignite its engines to enter a phase of orbiting the moon prior to attempting a lunar touchdown.

"It's a very compact spacecraft", says Anteby.

"We have a launch and landing dates!"

In addition to taking photos on the surface of the moon, the spacecraft will measure its magnetic field at the landing site, using a magnetometer installed on it. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing.

But SpaceIL has continued to work on its moon mission.

The initiative aims to raise interest in space and science among Israelis and encourage the younger generations to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professions. Over the years, additional partners from the private sector, government companies and academia have joined, including Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq and others. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.

The first Israeli astronaut for NASA was Ilan Ramon, who was among those killed when Space Shuttle Columbia crashed on February 1, 2003.