First privately-funded spacecraft to journey to moon set for launch

An Israeli space project backed by American billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is set to make history by launching the first ever private spacecraft to the moon this week.

The private aircraft will be launched on Thursday from Florida, propelled by a Falcon rocket from Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX.

The eight-year space venture by SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries is also backed by Israeli entrepreneur Morris Kahn.

The spacecraft, which weighs 180 kilograms, was contained in a temperature controlled shipping container, was shipped to the US last month. It is equipped with instruments to measure the moon’s magnetic field and contains a copy of the Bible.

If this project is successful, Israel will be the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the US, Russia and China. 

In a press conference on Monday Ido Anteby, chief executive of SpaceIL, told journalists that the spacecraft will slingshot around the Earth at least six times to reach the moon and land on its surface on April 11.