First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year

Israeli scientists stand next to an unmanned spacecraft which an Israeli team plans to launch into space at the end of the year and to land it on the Moon next year in Yahud Israel

"Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon", said Anteby. Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Despite the setback SpaceIL continued developing its spacecraft, which is being built in co-operation with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a state-owned firm.

The project began when young engineers - Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub - made a decision to build a spacecraft and take part in the Lunar Xprize competition sponsored by Google, which originally included a $20 million prize for the first group of contestants to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The people at SpaceIL aren't letting that stop them from completing the lunar journey.

The research, conducted in cooperation with scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, will use a magnetometer on the spacecraft to attempt to understand how the rocks on the moon received their magnetism.

The space agency will launch its lunar probe onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by the end of the current year, with plans to land on the moon by mid-February 2019.

Despite financial pitfalls in recent years that almost saw SpaceIL's spacecraft grounded permanently, the team is confident that December's launch will take place on time.

SpaceIL has so far spent about $89 million on the project.

The dainty spacecraft is just about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high and weighs 1,322 pounds (600 kilograms). In May, China launched a relay satellite that will orbit the moon and allow it to receive signals from a planned probe that will land on the far side of the moon.

Only then it will embark on its scientific mission, and will begin to take photos and videos of the landing site, and measure the moon's magnetic field.

It aims to transmit pictures and videos back to earth over two days after it lands on February 13 as well as measuring magnetic fields.

The spacecraft will undergo final testing over the coming months to make sure it can survive the rigors of launch, flight and landing.

For the first time in its history, Israel will have a spacecraft on the moon next year, the SpaceIL corporation announced Tuesday.

Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and USA megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL.

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