Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group continued with its project, thanks to the support of its donors. Once the mission is accomplished, the developer said the spacecraft will remain on the moon as a "symbol of Israeli success".
The only entities to have conducted controlled landings on the Moon are the governments of the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China.
The dimensions of the spacecraft are 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) high and 2 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter.
The spacecraft's design and development process began in 2013, two years after Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub founded SpaceIL and registered for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
"Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon", said Anteby.
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A successful mission would be a significant achievement, giving scientists a relatively low-priced spacecraft for future experiments, said Tal Inbar, head of the Space & UAV Research Center at The Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzilya, Israel.
An artist impression of the Israeli space craft landing on the moon.
After succeeding in raising the critical funds to continue its activity, SpaceIL announced that it was determined to continue on its mission and to launch its spacecraft by the end of the year, regardless of the competition.
"We will put the Israeli flag on the moon" said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL. The spacecraft will orbit the Moon for nearly two months before landing, where it will record and send video and conduct some small science observations using a magnetometer. Because it always faces away from the Earth, it is impossible without this system in place to get signals back from the far side of the moon.
The entire journey, from launch to landing, will last approximately two months.
The plan calls for the lander to execute a series of in-space maneuvers, then touch down on the lunar surface next February to transmit imagery and measure the moon's magnetic field. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.
The other goal is to give birth to an "Apollo Effect" in Israel, mirroring the USA enthusiasm that encouraged scientists to continue their research after the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.
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