Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

  • Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

SpaceIL's project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered $30m (£23m) in prizes to inspire people to develop low-priced methods of robotic space exploration. 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.

The probe will reportedly use one of Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rockets to launch, and will be the smallest craft to ever land on the moon.

The event was also attended by Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL president Morris Kahn, who donated some $27 million to the project.

The dainty spacecraft is just about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high and weighs 1,322 pounds (600 kilograms).

"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space", said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president. This will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the moon to date.

SpaceIL President Morris Kahn has donated about $27 million to the effort and chose to proceed even after the contest deadline passed and effectively ended without any finalists achieving the goal.

"What we're doing is we're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States", Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the USA space program landed on the moon in 1969. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km 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. As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous. It will orbit Earth in expanding ellipses and, about two months later, cross into the moon's orbit. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM. Over the years, additional partners from the private sector, from government companies and from the academia have joined as well. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.

The spacecraft's design and development process, which involved intensive work of engineers, scientists and team members, began in 2013 and continued until a year ago, when its construction at the IAI MABAT Plant commenced.

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