(photo credit: COURTESY SPACEIL)
An Israeli spacecraft will launch in December with a goal of landing on the moon next February, SpaceIL announced on Tuesday.
SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization among the five finalists for Google's Lunar XPRIZE, reiterated its campaign mission despite Google cancelling the $30 million cash prize in January.
Founded in 2011, ran into financing issues in December 2017 but received funds from a variety of sources, including businessman Sam Sagol, Amdocs founder Morris Khan, the Adelson Family Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Bezeq and the Israel Space Agency.
SpaceIL said its team was at the "most advanced" stage with regard to landing a probe on the surface of the moon, bringing Israel closer to "joining the prestigious circle of the three superpowers that have managed to reach the moon: the United States, the former Soviet Union and China."
The spacecraft will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December and is expected to land on February 13, 2019, completing its mission in two days' time. The probe will collect data, which will be studied at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
In 2016, the company ran a promotional campaign at Ben Gurion Airport with a model of the craft, asking travelers to send a selfie with the spacecraft, which would be brought to the surface of the Moon.
The competition, originally announced in 2007, whittled down the five finalists from 33 original teams.Stav Namar/Maariv contributed to this report.