Israel Aerospace Industries Shoots for the Moon

Jul 14, 2018 - 3:35 PM

Israel Aerospace Industries and nonprofit SpaceIL plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon in December. Though a specific launch date has not been set, the spacecraft is expected to land on the Moon on Feb. 13, 2019, making Israel only the fourth country to do so.

This mission follows eight years of work between IAI (Chalet A29) and SpaceIL. The spacecraft will be launched as a secondary payload of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is expected to take two months to reach the Moon. At 600 kilograms (1,322 pounds), it will be the smallest craft to land on the Moon.

The project has cost about $88 million, much of which came from private donations. SpaceIL president Morris Kahn donated $27 million to the effort. Three SpaceIL founders—Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub—also provided financial support.

The spacecraft was built at IAI’s Mabat plant, part of the company’s electronics division.