It’s only the size of a dishwasher and weighs as much as giant panda, but its inventors are hoping this spacecraft will go where no other Israeli vessel has gone before – to the moon.
Working on a shoestring budget, the Israeli scientists and engineers building the shuttle – temporarily named “Sparrow” – believe it will land on the moon by the end of 2015, a feat only the United States, Russia and China have managed so far.
The landing will be the toughest task in the Sparrow’s mission, not least because of the moon’s many mountains and craters, said Yariv Bash, an electronic engineer and the founder of SpaceIL, the group building the spacecraft.
SpaceIL, which is backed mainly by philanthropists, was founded to compete for Google’s LunarX Prize, unveiled in 2007. The $20 million prize will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon, make it jump 500 metres and transmit images and video back to earth.
Thirty-three teams started out in the running and they are now down to 18, including competitors from the United States, Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil, Canada, India and Chile.
Read more at Ynet.