Israeli company plans lunar landing next year

Pablo Tucker
July 14, 2018

An Israeli organisation announced plans Tuesday to launch the country's first spacecraft to the moon in December, with hopes of burnishing Israel's reputation as a small nation with otherworldly high-tech ambitions.

"We will put the Israeli flag on the Moon", said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, during Tuesday's press conference in Tel Aviv, at the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), where the spacecraft and ambitious timeline for the first non-governmental moon-landing was unveiled.

It will also make Israel part of an exclusive club of just three countries-the United States, the Soviet Union and China-that have successfully completed a controlled landing on the moon's surface. The craft is equipped with solar panels, avionics, electronics and a control system - all of which were developed in Israel.

In the coming months, the Israeli spacecraft will undergo intensive checks and tests at IAI to prove that it can withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions, said Anteby.

Only three countries have made soft landings of craft on the moon - Russia, the USA, and China. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December.

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

Approximately $88 million was invested in the spacecraft's development and construction.

"They hadn't really thought about the financial side", Kahn said, relaying how he gave them an initial grant of $100,000, with his support growing with the project to largely cover the $95 million project.

Israel Aerospace Industries, the country's prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, has been a full partner in this project since its inception, along with other partners from the private sector, the government companies and the academia.

Once it touches down on the lunar surface, it will plant an Israeli flag and begin conducting research into the magnetic field of the Earth's only natural satellite. The State of Israel, which is already firmly planted in the realm of space in its military activity, must harness resources for the benefit of civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education and groundbreaking around the world. This will take about two days to finish. The Israeli team was among the five finalists in the 10-year space race in which privately funded teams from all over the world competed for a $20 million prize. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.

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