It will also be the first spacecraft to propel itself over the lunar surface after landing ,”hopping” on its rocket engine to a second landing spot. SpaceIL was founded in 2011 to compete in the Google Lunar XPrize, a program that planned to award US$30 million to the first privately funded team who could build a spacecraft and land it successfully on the moon. However, after the competition had no a winner, the company finished the project itself. SpaceIL is backed mainly by private donors.
The Beresheet lander is about the size and shape of a family dinner table, roughly 6 feet in diameter and 4 feet high, weighing (on Earth) about 350 pounds. This doesn’t include the nearly 1,000 pounds of fuel needed to land the spacecraft on the moon. The mission will ride into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It will launch on February 18. Once landed on the moon, however, the mission may only last a few more days. The lander is not designed for the long haul, but instead will demonstrate advances in technology. If it is successful, Israel will be the fourth country to carry out a controlled ‘soft’ landing of an unmanned vessel on the moon.