Israel plans to land unmanned spacecraft on moon in February

Israeli scientists stand next to an unmanned spacecraft which an Israeli team plans to launch into space at the end of the year and to land it on the Moon next year, in Yahud, Israel, July 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 July 2018
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Israel plans to land unmanned spacecraft on moon in February

  • The craft is shaped like a round table with four carbon fiber legs
  • It is set to blast off in December from Florida’s Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

YEHUD/ISRAEL: 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 1.5 meters high and weighs 585 kg (1,290 lb). The spacecraft has four carbon fiber legs and fuel takes up two-thirds of its weight.
At 60,000 km (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy. It will orbit Earth in expanding ellipses and, about two months later, cross into the moon’s orbit. It will then slow and carry out a soft landing causing no damage to the craft.
“The landing is the most complicated part. The spot chosen is relatively flat and the spacecraft has eye contact with Earth for communication,” Anteby said. “From the moment the spacecraft reaches the point that it begins the landing, it will handle it totally autonomously.”
SpaceIL is backed mainly by private donors, including US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and billionaire Morris Kahn who co-founded Amdocs, one of Israel’s biggest high-tech companies.


Hamas chief: Israel ignoring cease-fire terms for Gaza

Updated 38 min ago
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Hamas chief: Israel ignoring cease-fire terms for Gaza

  • Ismail Haniyeh said the 2 million residents of Gaza didn’t see any improvements after the agreement
  • Hamas is leading mass protests along the Israel-Gaza border since March 2018

GAZA CITY: Hamas’ chief says Israel is ignoring the terms of an indirect cease-fire agreement for the Gaza Strip.
Ismail Haniyeh told foreign reporters in Gaza on Thursday that the understandings, brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the UN, now are “in the danger zone.”
He said Israel has shown “no respect” for the terms and the 2 million residents of blockaded Gaza who “have not felt” any improvement to their living conditions.
Israel acknowledges no formal arrangements.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade after the Islamic militant group violently seized control of the coastal Palestinian enclave in 2007.
Since March 2018, Hamas has led mass protests along the Israel-Gaza fence against Israel.
The two have fought three wars over the past decade and the informal understandings are aimed at preventing another war.