Israel to Launch Historic Moon Mission from Cape Canaveral in December

The first Israeli lunar spacecraft in the clean room. Photo Credit: Eliran Avital

First Israeli lunar spacecraft set to land on moon Feb. 13, 2019, making Israel fourth country to do so

At a historic press conference held on Tuesday at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s MBT Space facility in Yehud, Israel, nonprofit SpaceIL and IAI announced a lunar mission to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., this December, and land on the moon on Feb. 13, 2019. A final launch date will be announced closer to the event.

The lunar landing will culminate eight years of intensive collaboration between SpaceIL and IAI, and will make Israel the fourth country after the U.S., China and Russia to reach the moon. The spacecraft will be launched as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and its journey to the moon will last about two months, ending on its expected landing date. The Israeli lunar spacecraft will be the smallest to land on the moon, weighing only 1,322 pounds, or 600 kilograms.

Approximately $88 million (NIS 320 million) has been invested in the spacecraft’s development and construction, mostly from private donors, headed by SpaceIL President Mr. Morris Kahn, who donated about $27 million, or NIS 100 million.

Mr. Morris Kahn, President of the non-profit organization SpaceIL: “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. I have experienced numerous challenges in my life, but this was the greatest challenge of all. This is a huge achievement for us – SpaceIL – and for our partners, Israel Aerospace Industries, who have been with us since day 1. The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride. It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world’s space map.”

Dr. Ido Anteby, SpaceIL CEO: “SpaceIL, in collaboration with IAI, is embarking on the final leg of its complex mission to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. In the coming months the spacecraft will undergo a series of intensive checks and tests at IAI, to prove that it will withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions. The excellent teams of SpaceIL and IAI are working with determination to complete this unique technological challenge in time for the launch date this December.”

Mr. Josef Weiss, IAI CEO: “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 amazing capabilities once can reach in civilian space activity. The State of Israel, which is already firmly planted in the realm of space in its military activity, must harness resources for the benefit of civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education and groundbreaking around the world. The accomplishment we will soon achieve is the fruit of intensive labor of many years, of the best of minds.

Reaching such an achievement specifically during Israel’s 70th year symbolizes how far we have come, and particularly the endless accomplishments that we can still achieve. IAI will continue doing all that is needed in the coming months to ensure the success of this national mission.”

Edited by: JV Staff

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