Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division, speaks beside the SpaceIL lunar module, in a special “clean room” where the space craft is being developed, during a press tour of their facility near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned craft in December hoping to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon. (AP Photo/Ilan Ben Zion)

Israeli company plans lunar landing next year

YEHUD, Israel — An Israeli organization said Tuesday that it hopes to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon when it attempts to launch a module later this year.

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned craft in December, the team said at a press conference at an IAI facility outside Tel Aviv. If successful, Israel would become the fourth country to land a craft on the moon, after the U.S., the Soviet Union and China.

SpaceIL will ship the as yet unnamed module to the United States in November ahead of the launch. The 585 kilogram (1,289 pound) landing craft will piggyback on a SpaceX Falcon rocket to enter Earth’s orbit, then slingshot around the planet several times to reach the moon. Upon landing, the craft will relay photographs and collect data about the moon’s magnetism for research by Israel’s Weizmann Institute.

The $95 million project, largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other donors, aims to land on the moon on Feb. 13. Kahn said it would be “a tremendous achievement.”

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 and originally vied for Google’s Lunar Xprize, which challenged private companies to try to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

But the $20 million competition was scrapped by the tech giant earlier this year when it became clear none of the five companies would meet a March deadline.

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

“This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space,” said Kahn, SpaceIL’s main donor and president.

The aim of the mission is not only to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon, but to inspire a future generation of Israelis to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, said Joseph Weiss, IAI’s president and chief executive.

Israel has emerged as a technological titan in recent decades, producing a profusion of high-tech companies and drawing heavy international investment. Much of the module’s onboard computers were developed and produced locally.

The lunar mission is scheduled to last just two days after it touches down. But the SpaceIL team hopes that putting an Israeli-made module on the moon could help maintain Israel’s technological momentum for years to come.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States,” Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the U.S. space program landed on the moon in 1969.

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Centrefest brings feats of daring to Red Deer’s downtown

Fundraising was a tough slog, but it came together in the end

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Zuckerberg’s Holocaust comment puts Facebook on the spot

NEW YORK — Denying the Holocaust happened is probably OK on Facebook.… Continue reading

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Greenpeace members arrested for climbing Olympic Stadium tower in Montreal

MONTREAL — Several Greenpeace members climbed the outside of the Olympic Stadium… Continue reading

B.C.’s Site C dam project behind schedule, plagued by problems: expert

British Columbia’s mammoth Site C hydro-electric project is seriously behind schedule, plagued… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month