Israeli spacecraft ‘to land on moon’

AN Israeli spacecraft is expected to land on the moon in February.

SpaceIL, an Israeli non-profit organisation, will launch the unmanned craft in December.

The as-yet-unnamed module will be shipped to America in November ahead of the launch.

The 1,289 lbs 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 in Rehovot.

SpaceIL said its team was at the “most advanced” stage of preparation.

Success would mean it joining “the prestigious circle of the three superpowers that have managed to reach the moon — America, the former Soviet Union and China”.

The £78 million project, largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other donors, aims to land on the moon on February 13.

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 £15 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.

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