To the moon? Israel’s SpaceIL says SpaceX will launch team’s lunar lander this year

News Brief: SpaceIL, an Israeli team that was once a competitor in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize, says it will have its lander launched toward the moon in December. The lander will be a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket taking off from Florida, the team said today in a news release. The plan calls for the lander to execute a series of in-space maneuvers, then touch down on the lunar surface next February to transmit imagery and measure the moon’s magnetic field. SpaceIL says about $88 million has been invested in the project to date, mostly from private donors. Here’s a sampling of tweets about today’s announcement:

We have a launch and landing dates! December 2018- Launch, February 13 2019- First Israeli spacecraft lands on the moon! SpaceIL's moon mission is officially underway #SpaceIL

— SpaceIL (@TeamSpaceIL) July 10, 2018

Meet our spacecraft: small, smart and with a lot of Israeli #chutzpa. To the moon in December 2018! #SpaceIL

— SpaceIL (@TeamSpaceIL) July 10, 2018

Exciting @TeamSpaceIL news! Congrats to the whole team, including all the #TechnionAlumni and VP / Head of the SpaceIL Spacecraft Program Yigal Harel. #aerospace #space #tothemoon cc @IsraelSpace

— American Technion Society (@TechnionUSA) July 10, 2018

I want to believe … but given the many private Moon missions I have seen announced over the past 25 years and then *all* vanish, I will believe in only when it sits on a rocket. On the pad. And the candle is lit. Sorry for having to demand this …

— Daniel Fischer (@cosmos4u) July 10, 2018

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