Israel set to land spacecraft on the moon in early 2019

Screen capture from video of a press conference displaying the SpaceIL moon craft

Screen capture from video of a press conference displaying the SpaceIL moon craft

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX will carry the craft to the moon from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on February 13, 2019. If it passes, it will head into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as a secondary payload along with satellites on a SpaceX rocket.

With its 585 kilograms, two meters in diameter and a meter and a half high, the Israeli spacecraft will be the smallest to ever land on the moon, Ido Anteby, the CEO of the nonprofit SpaceIL said on Tuesday.

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 United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. "We worked together with the IAI team and SpaceIL team on very sophisticated engineering to get [it] all the way to the moon".

If successful, SpaceIL's $95 million project, funded largely by billionaire Morris Kahn, will become the first private enterprise endeavor to match the Moon exploration achievements of Russian Federation, the United States and China.

Kahn said costs associated with the program hover around $95 million.

He also called on the Israeli government to follow through with its pledge to fund 10 percent of the project.

"What we're doing is we're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States", Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the USA space program landed on the moon in 1969.

Speaking to JNS, Kahn said, "I think this will give us a sense of tremendous pride".

Ofer Doron, director of Israeli Aerospace Industry Program with the space craft.

At 60,000 km (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy. This long and complex course will allow the spacecraft to reach the moon with minimal fuel consumption. "From the moment the spacecraft reaches the point that it begins the landing, it will handle it totally autonomously".

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

Once it touches down on the moon, the spacecraft will use its cameras to take photos and video of the lunar surface. The most prominent among these are Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq and others.

Dr Anteby said: "We will put the Israeli flag on the moon".

SpaceIL's spacecraft is not only small-it measures 2 meters-by-1.5 meters and weighs 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds)-but also significantly less expensive than those usually launched into deep space.

That's one small achievement for the world, but one giant leap for Israel.

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