Israeli team ahead in privateer moon race

2015-10-07 18:36
The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (John Raoux, AP)

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (John Raoux, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jerusalem - An Israeli team competing in a race to the moon sponsored by Google has signed a with California-based SpaceX for a rocket launch, putting it at the front of the pack and on target for blast-off in late 2017, officials said on Wednesday.

With the deadline to win a $20m first-place prize just two years off, pressure is mounting on the 16 rivals from around the world hoping to complete a privately funded moon landing.

Silicon Valley's Moon Express announced a week ago that it had signed a contract with Lockheed Martin-backed Rocket Lab. But Israel's SpaceIL is the first team to have a launch agreement reviewed, verified and accepted by XPRIZE, the group overseeing the contest.

"The magnitude of this achievement cannot be overstated," said XPRIZE President Bob Weiss. "This is the official milestone that the race is on ... They've lit the fuse, as it were, for their competitive effort."

The key hurdle was finding an affordable ride to outer space without government funding, said Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL.

Because his team's spacecraft is much smaller than most competitors - it looks like a robotic, four-legged table, about 1.5 meters tall and wide - the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher can carry 20 small satellites whose fares will help cover costs, Privman said.

"Other teams are trying to find such solutions," he said.

SpaceX is a private company owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Much work remains. SpaceIL must manufacture hardware to fit the rocket and only then can it be shipped to the United States, Privman said.

The mission is scheduled for late 2017, just before the contest deadline. Once exiting the rocket in space, the Israeli craft will make its journey to the moon.

To win, a privately funded team must place an unmanned spacecraft on the moon's surface that can explore 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to earth.

Read more on:    google  |  spacex  |  israel  |  us  |  space

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.