Israel to launch first lunar space mission in December

Mindy Sparks
July 13, 2018

Israel announced Tuesday that it will launch its first lunar mission in December 2018, hoping to become the fourth country to land on the moon, following the U.S., Russian Federation and China.

A very exciting announcement came from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s MBT Space facility in Yehud, Israel, nonprofit SpaceIL and IAI when they announced a lunar mission will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this December, and land on the moon on February 13, 2019.

The craft will also carry out an experiment for the Weizmann Institute of Science to measure the moon's magnetic field. "We will put the Israeli flag on the moon", asserted Ido Anteby, SpaceIL CEO.

The project, which started in 2011 as part of Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a small probe on the moon, has yet to receive IAI funding, despite the promise to provide a 10 percent contribution.

Israel has long had an interest in space. "When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon." .

The Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, but Israel's team pledged to push forward. The project has been made possible with the assistance of some generous donors, not the least by SpaceIL's President Mr. Morris Kahn who donated US$27 million.

"I thought this was a great idea", he said, "and I asked them - 'do you have any money?'"

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.

SpaceIL said its team was at the "most advanced" stage with regard to landing a probe on the surface of the moon, bringing Israel closer to "joining the prestigious circle of the three superpowers that have managed to reach the moon: the United States, the former Soviet Union and China".

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

On the moon, the vessel will transmit data to the control centre at IAI for two days before its systems shut down.

It is hoped the mission's success will inspire scientific curiosity among Israeli youth.

"We're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the US", Kahn said, referring to the US programme that landed the first humans on the moon in 1969.

The other goal is to give birth to an "Apollo Effect" in Israel, mirroring the United States enthusiasm that encouraged scientists to continue their research after the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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