Costing around 88 million dollars, the spacecraft will be taken into space on a Falcon 9, a rocket developed by the Space Exploration Technologies Corp., owned by Elon Musk. The plan calls for the lander to execute a series of in-space maneuvers, then touch down on the lunar surface next February to transmit imagery and measure the moon's magnetic field. The project employs private Israeli company SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries of the state.
The probe, presented in the Israeli city of Yehud, will land on the lunar surface after a long journey during which it will orbit for about two months around the Earth. If successful, Israel would become the world's fourth country to land on the moon - a feat only Russian Federation, the United States and China have achieved.
"As one who has personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I regard the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the fantastic capabilities one can reach in civilian space activity", he said. "Apparatus with a diameter of 2 meters and a height of 1.5 m and weighs 600 kg, and landing on the moon he will weigh 180 kg".
Josef Weiss, IAI CEO said, "As one who has personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I regard the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the awesome capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity".
Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, who donated around $27 million to the project, told reporters that its objective is in part to inspire young people in Israel to study science and join the country's space projects. Its expected maximum speed could exceed 10 kilometers per second.
"After eight challenging years, I am filled with pride that the first Israeli spacecraft, which is in its final construction and testing phases, will soon be making its way to the moon".
"For two days we will conduct several scientific experiments and deploy an Israeli flag for future generations that we hope may one day visit the moon", Harel explained. The rocket will deliver the apparatus to a height of 60 thousand km, and it will be released on elliptical path around the Earth. "It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world's space map".
No government has landed a craft on the moon since the 1970s, but interest has revived recently.
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