First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year

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 was the only Israeli contestant in the global Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, which had offered a prize of $20 million to the first privately funded team to put a robot down on the moon, move it at least 1,650 feet and have it beam high-definition photos and video to Earth. What are the objectives of this moon mission?

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 craft, unveiled on Tuesday at state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, stands about 1.5 meters high and weighs 585 kilograms (1,290 pounds).

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.

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SpaceIL is backed mainly by private donors, including United States casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and billionaire Morris Kahn who co-founded Amdocs, one of Israel's biggest high-tech companies.

Israeli billionaire and investor Morris Kahn (left) answers journalists' questions in front of a Israeli Aerospace Industries spacecraft during a news conference Tuesday to announce its launch to the moon, in Yehud, Eastern Tel Aviv. "And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the Moon".

"We will put the Israeli flag on the moon" said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL. Building the spacecraft cost $95 million to date.

In the coming months, the Israeli spacecraft will undergo intensive checks and tests at IAI to prove that it can withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions, said Anteby.

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The entire journey, from launch to landing, is expected to last about eight weeks.

The Israeli spacecraft, about the size of a dishwasher, measure about 6.6 feet in diameter and about 1.65 feet in height. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.

The research, conducted in cooperation with scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, will use a magnetometer on the spacecraft to attempt to understand how the rocks on the moon received their magnetism.

IAI CEO Josef Weiss said he regards the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the incredible capabilities once can reach in civilian space activity.

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He got what he needed when he had to. "I had my chances so it's disappointing, but he was consistent and solid". But the 2018 French Open champion is on a roll and will likely continue that into the Wimbledon final.

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.

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