Israel Aims to Launch Moon Lander in December

An artist's rendering of the SpaceIL lunar spacecraft

An artist's rendering of the SpaceIL lunar spacecraft

SpaceIL was the first of 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors to sign a launch contract and one of only five teams to reach the finals.

To Kahn, for Israel to have a stake on the moon alongside the three global powers already there - the United States, Russia and China - would be "a tremendous achievement" that "will give us a sense of pride we really need".

At a press conference at IAI's MBT Space facility in Yehud, Israel, the partners said that the US$88 million spacecraft will take two months to reach the Moon after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and at 1,322 lb (600 kg) it will be the smallest spacecraft to touch down on the Moon's surface.

The Israeli spacecraft would be the lightest ever to land on the moon, weighing only 1,322 lbs.

The event was also attended by Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL president Morris Kahn, who donated some $27 million to the project. He had experienced numerous challenges in his life, but this was the greatest challenge of all.

An Israeli team that later became known as SpaceIL chose to join the fray and eventually partnered with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

SpaceIL plans to have Israel be the fourth country in the world to launch their spacecraft to the moon.

The spacecraft's journey to the moon will last about two months. Unlike bigger spacecraft that took four days to reach the moon, the smaller fuel capacity means SpaceIL must take an indirect way, orbiting the Earth to reach the moon, SpaceIL said. The accomplishment they will soon achieve is the fruit of intensive labor of many years, of the best of minds.

Yossi Weiss, the CEO of IAI, said conquering space is not just a way to prove technological prowess, but also an increasingly urgent need for a human race rapidly dilapidating its resources.

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

"As we went deeper into the project and the more people joined, we understood its complexity", Damari said.

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

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. It has only two meters in diameter and is half a meter high. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour).

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