SpaceIL Announces Plan to Launch Lunar Lander in December

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

SpaceIL, a former team in the defunct-but-resurrected-without-a-sponsor-or-any-prize-money Google Lunar X Prize, has announced plans to launch a landing vehicle to the moon in December with a landing date of Feb. 13, 2019.

The Times of Israel reports the team is working with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and that the Israeli government will be paying for 10 percent of the mission cost.

SpaceIL plans to launch the spacecraft as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. After it lands, the 600-kg (1,323 lb.) vehicle will unfurl an Israeli flag, photograph its surroundings and measure the moon’s magnetic field. The surface mission will be completed in two days.

The lander will not be carrying a rover capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface. This was one of the requirements of the decade-long Google Lunar X Prize, which ended in March without no one claiming the $10 million first prize.