|CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 18 – Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) today announced that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon – the world’s first privately funded lunar mission – will begin on Feb. 21 at approximately 8:45 p.m. EST, when the lunar lander “Beresheet” (“In the Beginning”) blasts off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Once Beresheet completes its lunar mission, Israel would join superpowers China, Russia, and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.
About 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, beginning, under its own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon’s surface. Two minutes after it separates from the rocket, Beresheet will communicate for the first time with the mission’s control center in Yehud, Israel.
SpaceX will broadcast the historic launch live on its YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/spacexchannel), and SpaceIL will simultaneously air on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SpaceIL/) live video from inside the control room in Yehud.
SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. SpaceIL was founded by three young engineers competing for the international Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to build, launch and land an unmanned lunar spacecraft. SpaceIL’s other stated goal is to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The launch will take place on a SpaceX rocket in first quarter of 2019, and the Moon landing will be at the end of a two-month journey in space. Since the establishment of SpaceIL, the task of landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become a national project, with educational impact, funded by donors such as Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Sami Sagol, Lynn Schusterman, Steven and Nancy Grand, Sylvan Adams and others. Morris Kahn, a philanthropist, and businessman, took the lead in completing the mission, financing about NIS 100 million of the project and serving as SpaceIL’s president.
About Israel Aerospace Industries:
IAI Ltd. is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company and a globally recognized technology and innovation leader, specializing in developing and manufacturing advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. Since 1953, the company has provided advanced technology solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide, including: satellites, missiles, weapon systems and munitions, unmanned and robotic systems, radars, C4ISR and more. IAI also designs and manufactures business jets and aerostructures, performs overhaul and maintenance on commercial aircraft and converts passenger aircraft to refueling and cargo configurations. http://www.iai.co.il/