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Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL will send a probe to the moon

A fourth nation is preparing to land on the moon, after the U.S., China, and Russia. Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL has the goal to land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon.

During a press conference on Tuesday, SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby told reporters his company had finally set February 13, 2019 as the date for its Moon landing. The Moon probe will lift off from Cape Canaveral sometime in December, hitching a ride aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The probe weighs just 600 kilograms (1,322 pounds). All started as a contender for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, which launched in 2007 and challenged private groups to land a craft on the Moon that could travel 500 meters (~1,640 feet) “below, on, or above” the lunar surface and send high-def video and images back to Earth. The competition ended without a winner on March 31, 2018.

SpaceIL-probe
SpaceIL probe and the Chief Executive Ido Anteby

SpaceIL was a competitor but they not stopped. It also plans to use its probe to measure the Moon’s magnetic field, transmitting the data back to Earth for use in an experiment the company is working on with the Weizmann Institute. “We will put the Israeli flag on the moon,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL. Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL President Morris Kahn donated around $27 million to the project. The project in total has cost $88.5 million.

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