Israel’s First Privately Funded Moon Mission Set To Launch

If successful, Israel would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

The spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585 kilogrammes at launch, will land on the moon in a few weeks. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

A privately funded moon mission is set to launch this week in Israel. If successful, Israel would be the fourth country to land on the moon.

According to The Guardian, the spacecraft’s name is Beresheet which is the Hebrew word for Genesis.

SpaceIL, the non-profit leading the project, will use one of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, courtesy of Elon Musk, to launch from Florida on Friday. After several weeks of travel the spacecraft will touch down and begin work to measure the moon’s magnetic field to help better understand how it formed.

The spacecraft, which will never leave the moon’s surface one it touches down, will also leave behind a package of digital files that contain the bible, drawings by kids, Israel’s national anthem and flag, along with memories from a Holocaust survivor.

The state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is also a partner on the project and excited to join the likes of China and the US as moon landers — at a fraction of the cost.

“This is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission,” an IAI statement said of the $87M project. “The superpowers who managed to land a spacecraft on the moon have spent hundreds of millions.”

In 1966, Russia was the first country to land on the moon followed by the US and China. Most recently, China made history when it landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

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