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Israel plans first lunar space mission in December

AFP  |  Yehud 

An Israeli organisation announced plans today to launch the country's first spacecraft to the moon in December, with hopes of Israel's reputation as a small nation with

The unmanned spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) at launch, will land on the moon on February 13, 2019 if all goes according to plan, organisers SpaceIL told journalists.

It will be launched via a rocket from American Elon Musk's firm and its mission will include research on the moon's magnetic field.

Its first task however will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, organisers said.

The project began as part of the Lunar XPrize, which offered USD 30 million (25 million euros) in prizes to encourage scientists and entrepreneurs to come up with relatively low-cost moon missions.

An Israeli team that later became known as SpaceIL decided to join the fray and eventually partnered with state-owned Aerospace Industries.

The prize expired in March without a winner having reached the moon, but Israel's team pledged to push forward.

The private initiative is expected to cost some USD 95 million, largely supported by Israeli billionaire

"It's going to show the way for the rest of the world" to send a spacecraft to the moon at a reasonable cost, said IAI's

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, July 10 2018. 16:05 IST