Israeli group announces plans for February 2019 Moon landing

Israeli scientists stand next to an unmanned spacecraft in Yahud

Israeli scientists stand next to an unmanned spacecraft in Yahud

In an announcement made Tuesday at an Israel Aerospace Industries space technology site in Yehud, project managers shared news of a partnership with Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch an unmanned lunar mission in December and from there they hope to become the fourth country to land on the moon on February 13 of 2019, reports Times of Israel. They plan to have the spacecraft land on the Moon after a two-month trip, on 13 February 2019.

An Israeli company says it will soon attempt to become the first private entity to land a spacecraft 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 launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride.

The initiative is mostly funded by individual donors, headed by SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, who donated about 27 million dollars.

The CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, Josef Weiss, expressed similar thoughts. The Israeli craft will be the smallest to land on the moon, weighing only 1,322 pounds or 600 kilograms.

The competition never got off the ground, but SpaceIL kept working, getting funding from donors, including Kahn and American Jewish billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson. "It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world's space map".

The spacecraft is a "hopper", which will land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500m away, as required by the XPrize.

Four other teams are still competing against SpaceIL for the honour of winning the Google Lunar XPrize - Moon Express from the US, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, and Synergy Moon, an worldwide group. "From the moment the spacecraft reaches the point that it begins the landing, it will handle it totally autonomously".

So it looks like this particular spacecraft and mission will be taking one of the first moon selfies. It is expected that the "mission" will wrap up in a mere two days.

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. Kahn told journalists that he hoped to inspire young Israelis to take up the study of science.

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