Israeli group announces plans for February 2019 Moon landing

Moon landing Israel lunar probe

Israeli space exploration firm SpaceIL, together with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), will launch a spacecraft into orbit via a SpaceX rocket in December, which they intend to land on the moon in February 2019. China this year plans to land a probe on the unexplored dark side of the moon, where radio signals from Earth can't be received.

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

"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.

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

The endeavor began, reports i24News, when Google Lunar XPrize, wanting to encourage innovation, offered a hefty sum ($30 million) for the person or company who could come up with a relatively low-priced mission to the moon. It will separate from the rocket at 37,000 miles above the Earth and enter an elliptical orbit and slowly expand until it's captured by lunar gravity.

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 continued with its project, thanks to the support of its donors.

Two Israeli companies want to make their home nation only the fourth to ever reach the moon.

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"We will put the Israeli flag on the moon", said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, reports Times of Israel.

IAI CEO Josef Weiss said he regards the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the wonderful capabilities once can reach in civilian space activity. Its two-month journey will start from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

On the moon, the vessel will transmit data to the control centre at IAI for two days before its systems shut down.

The Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, but Israel's team pledged to push forward.

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.

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. In recent years, SpaceIL has ignited the imagination of about 900,000 children nationwide, with the help of a broad network of volunteers.

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