SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket For Israel Moon Landing Mission

The SpaceIL moon landing craft

An Israeli organization said Tuesday that it hopes to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon when it attempts to launch a module later this year.

In an announcement made Tuesday at an Israel Aerospace Industries space technology site in Yehud, project managers shared news of a partnership with Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch an unmanned lunar mission in December and from there they hope to become the fourth country to land on the moon on February 13 of 2019, reports Times of Israel.

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.

A key figure to hop on board the project was Morris Kahn, a South African-born Israeli billionaire, who heard SpaceIL present their project. Kahn said if they pull off the moonshot it would be "a tremendous achievement".

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.

Private donations mostly paid for the project, including from the American businessman and Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.

"If we're going to continue being the start-up country we've got to get engineers". It is 1.5 meters, or over 4.9 feet high, 2 meters or six-and-a-half feet in diameter, and the fuel it will carry will comprise some 75 percent of its total weight. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km per second. The victor was expected to earn a prize of 20 million dollars to fund the landing of the first non-governmental unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The spacecraft will disengage from the launch rocket at an altitude of 60,000 kilometers, or 37,282 miles, and will begin orbiting Earth in elliptical orbits.

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"As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous".

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.

Its first task will be to plant an Israeli flag on the surface and then take still pictures and video.

Its main goal is transfer of photos and videos of the area on the Ground, and the measurement of the magnetic field. This will take about two days to finish.

So it looks like this particular spacecraft and mission will be taking one of the first moon selfies. However, the competition ended with no victor at the end of March, but the competition for the $30 million in cash prize continues, even without the cash.

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 their small country.

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