Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Israel Set to Take First National Selfie on Moon

The prototype SpaceIL vehicle is unveiled at the President’s Residence The prototype SpaceIL vehicle is unveiled at the President’s Residence
Doris Mccormick | 14 July, 2018, 23:48

Israel announced on Tuesday that it will launch its first lunar mission in December, with the hopes of becoming the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon in February 2019. SpaceIL presented its completed spacecraft, scheduled to launch in December on a SpaceX rocket.

The cameras inbuilt in the spacecraft shall be taking pictures and videos of the moon's surface and its magnetometer measures the moon's magnetic field.

"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 585 kilogram (1,289 pound) landing craft will piggyback on a SpaceX Falcon rocket to enter Earth's orbit, then slingshot around the planet several times to reach the moon.

The Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to take about two months to reach the Moon, reports the Times of Israel.

Development and launch costs for the spacecraft amounted to $95 million, the necessary funds coming from private donations, including a crowdfunding campaign and a NIS 100 million (approximately $22 million) grant from Israeli businessman Morris Kahn. SpaceIL CEO Anteby said that the organisation will put the Israeli flag on the Moon.

Despite the SpaceIL initiative is well in framework of Google Lunar XC Prize the SpaceIL will not get the prize as the cash retribution as it has been cancelled by the originator in March 2018 with no winners.

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At a press conference at IAI's MBT Space facility in Yehud, Israel, the partners said that the US$88 million spacecraft will take two months to reach the Moon after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and at 1,322 lb (600 kg) it will be the smallest spacecraft to touch down on the Moon's surface.

"It's going to show the way for the rest of the world" to send a spacecraft to the moon at a reasonable cost, said Ofer Doron, head of IAI's space division. The other three nations are the United States, Russia, and China.

The first stage of the lander will hoist the Israeli flag on the moon, he explained. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing.

But SpaceIL has continued to work on its moon mission.

The program has always had STEM education as a secondary goal, aiming to encourage Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The SpaceIL organization participated in the competition for the Google Lunar XC 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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