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Israel’s ground-breaking technologies in the unmanned systems field will accomplish a unique achievement in space this weekend. The first Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon will be launched on February 22, and is expected to land on the moon in April, after a seven-week journey. The unique project is a cooperation between SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The unmanned spacecraft Beresheet (genesis) will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying three satellites.

The Israeli spacecraft will be the smallest to land on the moon: a meter and a half high, two meters in diameter, carrying fuel that accounts for 75% of its weight – 600 kilograms. When it lands, it will weigh 180 kilograms.

The spacecraft is also unique for its low redundancy – it has no back-up systems for its various components such as are usual in space missions, making it lighter, and cheaper to build. It was developed and constructed at a cost of only $100 million.

The Beresheet project was declared as a national project.

The spacecraft will be launched at about 3:45 am, Israel time. After 30 minutes, it will separate from the launcher and will be independent in space. An hour after launch, the spacecraft will enter cruise mode, and will start orbiting the earth. It will eventually enter moon orbit, and is scheduled to land on the moon on April 11.

The spacecraft was inspected by the head of NASA when he visited Israel. He signed a cooperation agreement with SpaceIL through the Israel Space Agency. The agreement made it possible to reduce the risks to the spacecraft on its way to the moon. NASA will allow SpaceIL to use its systems to communicate with the spacecraft, and has installed a laser ranging retroreflector on it that will facilitate locating the spacecraft’s position.

The spacecraft will land on a site within Mare Serenitatis, on the northern hemisphere of the Moon. This site has magnetic anomalies. This will enable the magnetometer device taking measurements as part of the scientific experiment, according to spaceil.com. The spacecraft will measure the moon’s magnetic field as part of an experiment carried out in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute, reports globes.co.il.

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