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Israel Is Sending Its First Spacecraft To The Moon On A SpaceX Rocket

Jul 11, 2018 01:06 AM EDT
Falcon 9 Launch
Falcon 9 lifts off from Launch Pad 39A. Soon, an Israeli spacecraft could hitch a ride on SpaceX's Falcon on the country's first trip to the moon.
(Photo : Official SpaceX Photos | Flickr)

Israel is hoping to be the fourth country to the moon with an unmanned lunar mission slated to launch on December 2018.

The moon landing is targeted to be on Feb. 13, 2019. If successful, Israel will be the fourth country to complete a mission to the moon after the United States, Russia, and China.

"The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride," Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL, says. "It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world's space map."

Israel Gets Started On Lunar Journey

A collaboration between nonprofit organization SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, the project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize in 2010 that was offering $30 million to those who can achieve low-cost lunar missions.

While the Google prize wrapped up with no one getting awarded, the Israeli team is determined to continue with what they've already started.

The Plan

Israel's budding spacecraft is just roughly 5 feet tall and 1,322 pounds, making it the smallest ship to ever land on the moon, according to CNET.

It will get a push from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

The engineers and scientists will be testing the spacecraft over the next few months to make sure it can handle the rigorous journey to the moon.

When it arrives to its destination, the spacecraft will take photos and videos of the moon as well as measure the magnetic field at the landing site.

A Significant Project

Aside from achieving their goal for the pride of Israel, the scientists says that it's also important in a global level since humans are already rapidly consuming much of the planets' resources.

"We need to think about backup plans," Yossi Weiss, CEO of IAI, points out. "Earth is becoming small."

He adds that ultimately, humanity's future is bound to be in space.

The team is also hoping to inspire Israeli's children to be more interested in science, engineering, and aeronautics.

"They say kids are excited by space, robots and dinosaurs. We have a robotic spacecraft — that's two out of three," scientist Kfir Damari of SpaceIL says, adding that there's a spark in children's eyes when he talks about the project with them. "Even if they don't deal with space but enter another scientific or engineering field, we've realised the vision."

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