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12 July 2018, 12:24 | Edward Lowe
Determined to continue its race to the moon despite the expiration of the $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition last March, Israel's nonprofit SpaceIL http://www.spaceil.com announced plans to launch its unmanned module on a SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida in mid-December.
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.
Three countries have landed missions on the moon: the US, Russia and China.
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. "Projects like the Google Lunar XPrize competition in space are needed to push humanity forwards".
SpaceIL made the announcement at an Israel Aerospace Industries space technology site in Yehud on Tuesday, July 10, after month of preparations.
The spacecraft will plant an Israeli flag on the Moon's surface and carry out research into its magnetic field.
SpaceIL President Morris Kahn has donated about $27 million to the effort and chose to proceed even after the contest deadline passed and effectively ended without any finalists achieving the goal. December 2018- Launch, February 13, 2019- First Israeli spacecraft lands on the moon!
A successful mission would be a significant achievement, giving scientists a relatively low-priced spacecraft for future experiments, said Tal Inbar, head of the Space & UAV Research Center at The Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzilya, Israel.
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South African-born Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, who supplied funding for the project, said that he hoped that this mission would create the sort of enthusiasm that greeted the Apollo missions in the United States. The company undertook to launch its spacecraft this year, and has now announced its timetable for doing so.
Dr Anteby said: "We will put the Israeli flag on the moon". It will begin orbiting Earth on an elliptical path.
"We have a launch and landing dates!"
The spacecraft's design and development process, which involved intensive work of engineers, scientists and team members, began in 2013 and continued until a year ago, when its construction at the IAI MABAT Plant commenced. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.
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