Tuesday February 25, 2020
Home Lead Story Israel’...

Israel’s Private Spacecraft to Shoot For Moon

Israeli private spacecraft shoots for Moon

0
//
Lunar eclipse, Moon
Earth starts to cast its shadow on the moon during a complete lunar eclipse seen from Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 28, 2018. VOA

Aiming to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon, Israel’s non-profit SpaceIL has announced it will launch a spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned craft, weighing 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, will then begin an about seven-week journey to the Moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

The spacecraft is called “Beresheet,” a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning…”

For decades, the Moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the US landed Ranger 4 on the Moon.

These were “hard landings,” meaning the craft crashed into the Moon. The first “soft landings” for both countries came in 1966, when spacecraft made controlled descents to the lunar surface.

It would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to perform a soft Moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did it in 2013.

If Israel’s spacecraft venture proceeds as planned, it would become the fourth — and by far the smallest — country to do so. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the Moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission.

The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations, is $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.

The moon is seen near the Illimani mountain during a full lunar eclipse in La Paz, Bolivia, July 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters.

“This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible,” said entrepreneur Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million to the project.

“The only thing is I didn’t realize it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible… We are really making this dream come true,” Kahn added.

SpaceIL was founded eight years ago to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition to see whether a private enterprise could land a spacecraft on the moon, move 500 meters in any direction, and transmit live, high-definition video from the lunar surface.

The competition was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five teams left in the competition was able to meet the March deadline for a launch.

Also Read- Huawei Involved in Stealing Apple Trade Secrets

But some of the teams persisted, determined to land on the Moon even without the incentive of $30 million in prize money.

SpaceIL pressed on, signing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch their craft to the Moon on board a Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled for launch on February 21.

Beresheet will travel approximately 4 million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots towards the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA Aims to Understand More About Venus, Moons of Jupiter and Neptune

NASA eyes new missions for Venus, Jupiter's moon and Neptune

0
NASA
NASA is funding studies that aim to understand more about Venus, Jupiter's moon Io and a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, Triton. (Representational Image). Pixabay

NASA is funding studies that aim to understand more about Venus, Jupiter’s moon Io and a unique and highly active icy moon of Neptune, Triton.

These selected studies will develop concept studies for new missions.

Although they are not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections, the US space agency said on Friday.

“These selected missions have the potential to transform our understanding of some of the solar system’s most active and complex worlds,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

NASA
After evaluating the concept studies, NASA will continue development of up to two missions towards flight. Pixabay

“Exploring any one of these celestial bodies will help unlock the secrets of how it, and others like it, came to be in the cosmos,” Zurbuchen added.

The four investigations were selected as part of NASA’s Discovery Programme that invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it.

Also Read- Follow These Tips to Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Skin

Each of the four nine-month studies will receive $3 million to develop and mature concepts and will conclude with a concept study report, NASA said.

After evaluating the concept studies, NASA will continue development of up to two missions towards flight. (IANS)