An Israeli non-profit group plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in February in the first landing of its kind since 2013.
The craft, which is shaped like a round table with four carbon fiber legs, is set to blast off in December from Florida’s Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, said Ido Anteby, chief executive of the SpaceIL non-profit.
It aims to transmit pictures and videos back to earth over two days after it lands on Feb. 13 as well as measuring magnetic fields.
“Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon,” said Anteby.
Since 1966, the United States and the former Soviet Union have put around 12 unmanned spacecraft on the moon using braking power to perform “soft” landings and China did so in 2013.
SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by a group of engineers with a budget of about $90 million and they had to sacrifice size and operational capabilities for more efficient travel.
The craft, unveiled on Tuesday at state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, stands about 4-1/2 feet high and weighs 1,290 pounds. The spacecraft has four carbon fiber legs and fuel takes up two-thirds of its weight.—Reuters