Israel seeks to join the ranks of the space superpowers by becoming the fourth country to probe the moon. In addition to scientific instruments, the "Genesis" probe will carry a copy of the Bible on a small metal disc.
Genesis, or "Beresheet" in Hebrew, is about the size of a washing machine and is equipped with instruments to measure the magnetic field of the Moon. It was designed by SpaceIL, a private company, in cooperation with Israeli public corporation Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The probe is expected to be launched Thursday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. However, it will take nearly two months to reach the moon because it has to go around the Earth six times, Ido said Monday. Anteby, general manager of SpaceIL, and Ophir Doron, director of IAI, reporters.
SpaceIL was founded in 2011 to compete for Google's Lunar Xprize, a $ 20 million challenge to build a robotic probe and put it on the moon. The competition was canceled last year. The costs of "Genesis" have climbed to about $ 100 million, which has been funded by generous contributions from donors around the world who would like to see the Jewish state join the ranks of space nations.
"All Jews, not just Israelis, will remember where he was when Israel landed on the moon," AP quoted South American-born Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, one of the project's main donors.
To date, only the Soviet Union, the United States and China have landed on Earth's natural satellite. The first Soviet probe landed in 1959 and the first lunar rover visited in 1970. The American Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, but the Apollo program was canceled at the end of 1972.
China launched its first lunar orbiter in 2007, landed a probe in 2013 and on the far side of the moon in December. In addition to sending photos of the "Dark side," the probe is touted from the very first biological experiment on the lunar surface, growing a cotton seed in an experimental biosphere.
Much of the original space race had a dimension of US-Soviet competition during the Cold War. The feeling of national prestige is also very evident in the Israeli program, the president of the country with enthusiasm tweeting on the imminent launch.
SpaceIL also uses this lunar shot to control Iran, the country's sworn enemy, commenting that it can not hear Tehran's threats from the lunar surface.
Iran has its own space program, which has successfully launched a number of satellites in orbit, but has not yet reached the moon. In addition, the country's space efforts have recently been marred by suspicious failures. Anonymous US officials told the New York Times last week that the United States was conducting a sabotage program against Iran's missile and space program.
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