First private Israel lunar mission to be launched this week

Last Updated: Feb 19 2019 10:50
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According to the sources, and organisers said, Israel is to launch its first moon mission this week, sending an unmanned spacecraft to collect data to be shared with NASA.

SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries told reporters on Monday that the landing craft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, will ship from Florida, where, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon rocket launch, it will commence its months-long voyage to the moon.

The launch is due late Thursday in the US, early Friday in Israel. It had been originally slated for last December.

SpaceIL president Morris Kahn said, "We are entering history and are proud to belong to a group that has dreamed and fulfilled the vision shared by many countries in the world but that so far only three of them have accomplished,"

NASA plans to build a small space station, dubbed Gateway, in the moon's orbit by 2026.

It will serve as a way-station for trips to and from the lunar surface, but will not be permanently crewed.

Genesis will make its 6.5-million kilometre (one million-mile) journey at a maximum speed of 10 kilometres per second (36,000 kilometres per hour), according to an IAI statement.

It will carry a "time capsule" loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

Israel's space program chief Avi Blasberger says he hopes it will create a "Beresheet effect" in Israel, akin to the Apollo effect, to promote science for a new generation of Israelis.