Israel plans to land unmanned spacecraft on moon in February

The prototype SpaceIL vehicle is unveiled at the President’s Residence

The prototype SpaceIL vehicle is unveiled at the President’s Residence

The probe will reportedly plant an Israeli flag on the moon, before carrying out research.

An Israeli organization said Tuesday that it hopes to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon when it attempts to launch a module later this year.

The project culminated in the design of an Israeli lunar probe, which SpaceIL claimed would launch regardless of the contest's outcome.

On Tuesday, the team announced its goal of a February 13, 2019, moon landing, but it has yet to set a specific launch date in December.

The entire endeavour began roughly seven years ago when SpaceIL joined a Google technology contest to land a small, unmanned probed on the moon.

The Israeli spacecraft, about the size of a dishwasher, measure about 6.6 feet in diameter and about 1.65 feet in height.

South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, who has donated $27 million to the enterprise, was extremely excited: "The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride".

Initially, this plan was part of a competition that Google set up called the Lunar XPrize. More than 400kg of that weight is fuel that will be burnt off by the time it lands on the Moon.

If successful, SpaceIL's mission will make Israel the fourth country in the world to "soft land" a probe on the surface of the Moon - after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The project began when young engineers - Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub - chose to build a spacecraft and take part in the Lunar Xprize competition sponsored by Google, which originally included a $20 million prize for the first group of contestants to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

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 fantastic capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity".

Another goal of the mission is to discover the magnetic mysteries of moon rocks, officials said.

"This is a tremendous project", Kahn said. "When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon".

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