A non-profit organization of Israel is planning to send the first privately-funded unmanned spacecraft to the Moon later this year which will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in December on Elon Musk’s SpaceX company’s built Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceIL said the probe expected to land on the Moon in February 2019. After landing on Moon, the spacecraft will plant an Israeli flag on the surface. It will also carry out research into its magnetic field.
SpaceIL’s project started as part of the Google Lunar XPrize. The project offered $30m (£23m) in prizes to let people develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. However, the competition finished this March while the $20m grand prize for landing on the moon unclaimed.
SpaceIL developed its spacecraft in co-operation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
It has also spent about $88.5m. Most of the investment came from the South African-born Israeli billionaire businessmen Morris Kahn.
CEO of SpaceIL, Ido Anteby said that its probe will be the smallest yet to land on the Moon.
It is about 2m (6.6ft) in diameter and 1.5m high. It will weigh only 585kg (1,300lb) at launch with 400kg of that weight is fuel for the burn at the time it lands on the Moon.
If the mission remains successful then SpaceIL’s mission will also make Israel the fourth country in the world to land a probe on the surface of the Moon. The other countries on the list included the former the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
Mr. Kahn also hoped the mission would make an “Apollo effect” for the next generation in Israel.
“This is a tremendous project. When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon.”
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