Israel plans to land unmanned spacecraft on moon in February

12 July, 2018, 12:21 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Ido Anteby SpaceIL's CEO stands in front of an unmanned spacecraft which an Israeli team plans to launch into space at the end of the year and to land it on the Moon next year in Yahud Israel

SpaceIL was the only Israeli company involved in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which carried a £15million ($20million) victory prize until it was scrapped in March 2018 due to contestants' missed deadlines. The spacecraft has four carbon fiber legs and fuel takes up two-thirds of its weight.

The "smart spacecraft", developed by Israeli engineers, will be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida in November in preparation for the December launch.

The 2 meter-by-1.5 meter vehicle weighs 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds), making it the smallest spacecraft yet to touch down on the moon.

"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space", said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president.

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

SpaceIL president Morris Kahn expressed his excitement for the project, saying that the launch of the spacecraft is a national accomplishment that can put the country in the world's space map.

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Dr Anteby said: "We will put the Israeli flag on the moon". Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 kilometers per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour). 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. "From the moment the spacecraft reaches the point that it begins the landing, it will handle it totally autonomously". It will orbit Earth in expanding ellipses and, about two months later, cross into the moon's orbit. A final launch date will be announced closer to the event.

In addition to taking photos on the surface of the moon, the spacecraft will measure its magnetic field at the landing site, using a magnetometer installed on it.

For children from any country, SpaceIL introduced its Moon Kids website in English, chock full of fun interactive content about the moon and outer space. Over the years, additional partners from the private sector, government companies and academia have joined, including Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq and others.

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

The first Israeli astronaut for NASA was Ilan Ramon, who was among those killed when Space Shuttle Columbia crashed on February 1, 2003.

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