This Israeli spacecraft is expected to land on the moon in early 2019.
Nevertheless, despite concern that its activity would be terminated for lack of money, SpaceIL continued its activity with the aim of adding Israel to the exclusive club of countries that have landed on the Moon, the only members of which are the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and China. The spacecraft will be ready to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Approximately $88 million were invested in the spacecraft's development and construction, mostly from private donors, headed by SpaceIL President Mr. Morris Kahn, who donated about $27 million. "Projects like the Google Lunar XPrize competition in space are needed to push humanity forwards".
A group of private Israeli companies are joining the race to return to the moon, after NASA's recent cancellation of a lunar mission and India's announcement that in October it will send a rover to look for signs of water and nuclear fuel.
IAI, which is the home of Israel's space activity, has been a full partner in this project from its inception. The most prominent among these are Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq and others.
For children from any country, SpaceIL introduced its Moon Kids website in English, chock full of fun interactive content about the moon and outer space.
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. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour).
According to SpaceIL, once the spacecraft disengages from the launch rocket, it will begin orbiting Earth in continuously larger elliptical orbits. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing.
The SpaceIL lunar space craft.
The project, which started in 2011 as part of Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a small probe on the moon, has yet to receive IAI funding, despite the promise to provide a 10 percent contribution.
The competition officially ended with no victor on March 31, with Google announcing that it would no longer sponsor it.
"We will put the Israeli flag on the Moon", SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby said at a press event, The Times of Israel reports. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.