Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019

Moon landing SpaceIL lunar probe

SpaceIL explained: "While the other Google Lunar X Prize teams developed large rovers to move the required 500 meters on the Moon's surface, in order to conserve mass, SpaceIL developed the idea of a space hop: to have the spacecraft land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500 meters away".

The SpaceIL non-profit organization, which has been developing an unmanned spacecraft for landing on the Moon, today announced at a press conference that it would conducting the launch in December 2018.

Nevertheless, despite concern that its activity would be terminated for lack of money, SpaceIL continued its activity with the aim of adding Israel to the exclusive club of countries that have landed on the Moon, the only members of which are the USA, the former Soviet Union, and China.

The IAI-built spacecraft, which was build in 2013, will be transferred to the United States in November, ahead of the launch.

It will be launched via a rocket from Elon Musk's SpaceX firm this December, and it's expected to land on the moon on February 13, 2019.

SpaceIL has so far spent about $89 million on the project. Kahn said it would be "a tremendous achievement".

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But the $20 million competition was scrapped by the tech giant earlier this year when it became clear none of the five companies would meet a March deadline.

"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space", said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president.

Ofer Doron, head of IAI's space division, said Israel was "going to show the way for the rest of the world" to send a spacecraft to the Moon at a reasonable cost.

Israel has emerged as a technological titan in recent decades, producing a profusion of high-tech companies and drawing heavy worldwide investment.

The lunar mission is scheduled to last just two days after it touches down.

But the SpaceIL team hopes that putting an Israeli-made module on the moon could help maintain Israel's technological momentum for years to come. Billionaire businessman and SpaceIL project funder Morris Kahn said he'd also like to see the 2019 launch create an "Apollo Effect" - the excitement in the United States after the 1969 moon landing that spurred further scientific research.

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