Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

SpaceIL to launch unmanned Moon probe in December

Israeli scientists stand next to 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 to launch unmanned Moon probe in December
Theresa Hayes | 12 July, 2018, 12:23

SpaceIL launched in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub partnered to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE-an worldwide competition to put a small, mobile craft on the moon. To win the first prize of $20 million, the participants were required to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

Speaking at press conference, SpaceIL's CEO Ido Anteby said his country's flag will be planted on the moon.

"When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon." .

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.

SpaceIL was formed by three people and participated in Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition, which closed in March without naming a victor.

The unmanned mission is a joint effort between private company Israel Aerospace Industries and nonprofit organization SpaceIL.

This illustration imagines what the spacecraft would look like on the moon.

An artist impression of the Israeli space craft landing on the moon.

Once it completes its mission, the spacecraft will remain on the moon, proudly displaying the flag of the State of Israel.

For the first time in its history, Israel will have a spacecraft on the moon next year, the SpaceIL corporation announced Tuesday.

A successful mission would be a significant achievement, giving scientists a relatively low-priced spacecraft for future experiments, said Tal Inbar, head of the Space & UAV Research Center at The Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzilya, Israel. The spacecraft will orbit the Moon for nearly two months before landing, where it will record and send video and conduct some small science observations using a magnetometer. A final launch date will be announced closer to the event.

Only then it will embark on its scientific mission, and will begin to take photos and videos of the landing site, and measure the moon's magnetic field.

SpaceIL aims to set in motion an "Apollo effect" in Israel: to encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); to change their perception of these subjects; to generate a sense of capability; and to allow them to dream big dreams even in our small country.

But SpaceIL has continued to work on its moon mission. In recent years, SpaceIL has ignited the imagination of about 900,000 children nationwide, with the help of a broad network of volunteers.

A goal of the mission is to spark interest in space among young Israelis.