Israeli company shooting for lunar landing

The prototype SpaceIL vehicle is unveiled at the President’s Residence

The unmanned spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585kg (1,300 pounds) at launch, will land on the moon on February 13, 2019 if all goes according to plan, organizers SpaceIL told a news conference in Yehud, central Israel.

Would SpaceIL mission will be successful Israel, in some way, will became the fourth nation to ever land on the Moon.

So far it has spent about $88.5m, much of which it has received from the South African-born Israeli billionaire businessmen Morris Kahn.

To Kahn, for Israel to have a stake on the moon alongside the three global powers already there - the United States, Russia and China - would be "a tremendous achievement" that "will give us a sense of pride we really need".

SpaceIL launched in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub partnered to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE-an global competition to put a small, mobile craft on the moon.

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Since SpaceIL's establishment, the mission of landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become a national project embodying educational values, funded by donors such as Dr. Miriam and Mr. Sheldon Adelson, Mr. Sammy Sagol, Mrs. Lynn Schusterman, Mr. Steven Grand and others.

First landing on the Moon was performed by USSR back to the 1959. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour).

At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy.

Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group continued with its project, thanks to the support of its donors. "During the landing the craft will photograph the landing area with stills and video and even record itself".

The Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to take about two months to reach the Moon, reports the Times of Israel.

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So it looks like this particular spacecraft and mission will be taking one of the first moon selfies.

"As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous", Anteby said. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing.

The competition, however, ended with no victor on March 31, when Google announced that it would no longer sponsor it.

After succeeding in raising the critical funds to continue its activity, SpaceIL announced that it was determined to continue on its mission and to launch its spacecraft by the end of the year, regardless of the competition.

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