Israel is set to become only the fourth country in the world to put a spacecraft on the Moon. SpaceIL is planning to launch the first Israeli-built spacecraft in December, which is expected to land on the Moon on February 13 2019, after a two-month journey. The spacecraft will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
According to SpaceIL CEO, Ido Anteby, this is the smallest spacecraft ever to land on the Moon. Its dimensions are about 2m in diameter and 1.5m high, and its mass is roughly 600kg, although 75% of this weight is fuel that will be burnt off by the time it lands on the Moon. The autonomous vehicle will then conduct a two-day scientific mission, in collaboration with the Rehovot based, world renowned, Weizmann Institute of Science. The vehicle will measure magnetic fields around the landing site and transmit the data collected to researchers around the world, for further analysis and study. It is also equipped with a camera set to take pictures of the moon’s surface.
SpaceIL is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation founded in 2010, whose aim is to land a spacecraft on the moon. SpaceIL was a founder competitor in Google’s “Lunar Xprize” competition.