Three countries have landed missions on the moon: the US, the Soviet Union and China. Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a
Falcon 9 rocket.
On Tuesday, the team announced its goal of a Feb. 13, 2019, moon landing, but it has yet to set a specific launch date in December. It will take about two months for the spacecraft to reach its destination after launch.
SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries have raised $88 million primarily from private donors to fund the project over the past eight years.
The dainty spacecraft is just about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high and weighs 1,322 pounds (600 kilograms). The team says it will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the moon.
Once it touches down on the moon, the spacecraft will use its cameras to take photos and video of the lunar surface. It will also measure the moon's magnetic field at the landing site using a magnetometer.
The spacecraft will undergo final testing over the coming months to make sure it can survive the rigors of launch, flight and landing. If it passes, it will head into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as a secondary payload along with satellites on a SpaceX rocket.
"The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride," said SpaceIL President Morris Kahn. "It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world's space map."
Originally published July 10 at 11:05 a.m. PT. Updated at 6:45 a.m. PT: To note that the Soviet Union landed a mission on the moon.
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