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17 Dec, 2018 14:25

Israeli engineers add ‘final element’ to spacecraft before 2019 moon launch

Israeli engineers on Monday added the final element to a spacecraft destined for the moon – a digital time capsule – saying they aim to land the craft early next year, somewhere between the landing sites of Apollo 15 and 17. It will be the first mission of its kind since 2013. If it is successful, Israel will be the fourth country to carry out a controlled “soft” landing of an unmanned vessel on the moon. Since 1966, the US and the former Soviet Union have put around a dozen of them on the moon and China last did so in 2013. “The spacecraft is completely built, tested… and will be ready to ship to Cape Canaveral in a few weeks,” according to Ido Anteby, CEO of the SpaceIL non-profit that has led the project. The craft, Beresheet, Hebrew for Genesis, is shaped like a round table with four carbon-fiber legs, stands about 1.5 meters tall and weighs 585kg, with fuel accounting for two-thirds of that weight. It will blast off from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the next few months after an initial December date was pushed back, Reuters said.