The $100 million (NIS 370 million) spacecraft is a joint venture between private companies SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, funded nearly entirely by private donations from well-known Jewish philanthropists, including South African billionaire Morris Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Lynn Schusterman, and others. The two others are a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
Israel seeks to become the fourth country in the world, after Russian Federation, the United States and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon.
The exciting project could be a landmark achievement for Israel's voyage into space, and Sputnik has compiled all you need to know about the forthcoming lunar mission. The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors. The US$100 million Beresheet mission couldn't afford its own rocket - even a little one - so the organisers opted for a ride share.
Americans are the only ones to have walked on the lunar surface, but have not been there since 1972. Once it arrives on the lunar surface, it will study the moon's local magnetic field and craters on its two Earth-day surface mission. The agreement made it possible to reduce the risks to the spacecraft on its way to the moon.
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None of the dozens of teams who entered the contest could succeed in creating the spacecraft that could land on the moon and send back high-definition pictures, which is why Google finally called off the cash competition worth $20 million in early 2018.
On Friday, NASA is expected to decide whether to give its final go-ahead to SpaceX for a first, unmanned test flight on March 2 of a new capsule the company designed for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. "This is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon".
"This time, when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week. It was this particular's booster third launch and landing.
The US space agency plans to build a small space station, dubbed Gateway, in the Moon's orbit by 2026, and envisages a manned mission to Mars in the following decade.