RAMAT GAN, Israel – An Israeli non-profit consortium said Monday that it was hoping to enter the story this week by launching the first private plane to land on the moon.
At a press conference, SpaceIL and the Israeli public company Israel Aerospace Industries announced that the landing craft, dubbed "Beresheet", will take off from Florida, powered by a SpaceX Falcon rocket during its long trip of a week to the moon.
The launch is scheduled for Thursday in the United States and Friday in Israel. It was originally scheduled for last December.
Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, and Opher Doron, general manager of the IAI's space division, said the spacecraft would be launched at least six times around the Earth in order to reach the moon and d & # 39; To land on its surface on April 11th.
If the SpaceIL mission succeeds, Israel will become the fourth country to place a spacecraft on the moon, after the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
SpaceIL has sought to inspire public enthusiasm for the lunar mission in Israel in recent months, visiting classrooms across the country and sponsoring TV commercials that place Israel at the same level as world powers.
The small boat, which is about the size of a washing machine, is equipped with instruments to measure the magnetic field of the moon, as well as a copy of the Bible engraved under a microscope on a small disk. metal.
Israeli space program leader Avi Blasberger said he hoped SpaceIL would create a "Beresheet effect" in Israel, similar to the Apollo effect, to promote science among the new generation.
SpaceIL was founded in 2011 and originally competed for Google's Lunar Xprize, which launched a challenge for private companies to try to pose a robotic spacecraft on the moon. But the $ 20 million competition was dropped by the tech giant last year when it became apparent that none of the five companies would meet a predefined deadline.
The SpaceIL project has soared over the years to reach about $ 100 million, largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other donors around the world.
Kahn said that he thought that "every Jew, not just every Israeli, will remember where he was when Israel landed on the moon".