On February 18, a non-profit Israeli consortium said it hopes to go down in history this week by launching the first private spacecraft on the lunar surface. Representatives of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries told a press conference that the Beresheet (Genesis) spacecraft weighing 585 kg should launch from SpaceX on a Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch is scheduled for Thursday evening (US time). It was originally planned to start in December 2018. The spacecraft will perform 6 gravitational slingshots around the Earth in order to reach the moon and land on its surface on April 11.
If the mission of SpaceIL is successful, then Israel will become the fourth country to land a spaceship on the moon. In recent months, the company has particularly attracted attention to the project through advertising. The spacecraft resembles a washing machine in size and has instruments for measuring the magnetic field of the moon. Representatives of the space industry are hoping that this launch will be a kind of Apollo mission, which will push Israel to further space exploration.
SpaceIL was founded in 2011. Initially, the company fought for victory in Google Lunar Xprize, where private companies had to create a lunar landing gear. But last year the competition was stopped when they realized that not one of the 5 companies is keeping up with the deadlines. $ 20 million so no one won.
The cost of the SpaceIL project over the years has grown to $ 100 million. Most of the funding comes from billionaire Maurice Kahn. The spacecraft will fly 6.5 million km at a speed of 10 km / s. On board there is a time capsule where the Bible, children's drawings, digital files and the Israeli flag were placed.