December space launch could make Israel fourth country to land on moon

israel proposed moon landing israelcraft
Google Lunar XPrize

In an age in which the high-profile space stories and competition typically involve companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and others, it’s easy to forget that it used to feel like more of a national rivalry — summoning memories of the U.S. and Soviet Union from the height of the Space Race. One country which clearly hasn’t forgotten those halcyon days? Israel, which announced its intentions to be the fourth country to land a mission on the moon — after the U.S., Russia, and China.

With this goal in mind, it’s planning to launch an unmanned spacecraft in December as a collaboration between Israel Aerospace Industries and the nonprofit organization SpaceIL. The launch will take place from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The two companies behind the launch have raised $88 million from private donors to fund the project over the course of the past eight years. Their diminutive craft is a little over 5 feet in height and tips the scale at 1,322 pounds. It will take around two months to reach the moon, with a target date of February 13, 2019. No launch date has yet been announced.

“The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride,” said SpaceIL President Morris Kahn. “It is a national accomplishment that will put us on the world’s space map.”

SpaceIL was previously part of Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, which promised a $20 million prize for any non-governmental organization able to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon by 2014. Ultimately, no organization was able to achieve this, although clearly, SpaceIL was not ready to throw in the towel just because it had missed Google’s deadline. Half a decade later, it may well claim the moral victory, if not the financial one.

If the group’s spacecraft does successfully reach the moon, it will be the smallest craft to have done so in history. On the moon’s surface, it will take assorted videos and photographs, as well as measuring the moon’s magnetic field using a magnetometer.

Israel Aerospace Industries hopes that the space mission will trigger an “Apollo effect,” which captures the imagination of kids and gets them inspired about the possibility offered by STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects.

Product Review

'Far Cry 5' trades palm trees for pines, but it's still the same old game

Far Cry 5 has all the pieces of a lighthearted open-world romp and a dark, fascinating narrative-driven game. Unfortunately, the two are incompatible.
Emerging Tech

Blue Origin reaches a big milestone, lands rocket booster and crew capsule

Jeff Bezos' space endeavor Blue Origin recently completed its most important test -- a live separation of its crew capsule from its rocket booster. More than 20,000 people tuned into the livestream.
Gaming

The 25 best SNES games

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games, including A Link to the Past and Chrono Trigger.
Emerging Tech

A trip to space on the New Shepard will set you back at least $200,000

Blue Origin is moving toward the day when it will begin taking paying customers to the edge of space, and a company executive revealed that it plans to start taking bookings for the experience next year.
Smart Home

Ring and National Night Out partner to make Neighbors app more effective

Your home is only as safe as your neighborhood, and no one understands this better than Ring. To continue on its mission of enhancing safety for everyone, the company launched the Neighbors app, partnering with National Night Out.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in July 2018, from ‘Coco’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Rolls-Royce wants to put you in a flying taxi come the early 2020s

Rolls-Royce wants to take you for a ride in the skies. The U.K.-based jet engine maker has unveiled a new concept for a propulsion system that would power a flying taxi. This would rival similar offerings from Airbus and Uber.
Cars

The BlackFly by Opener is a flying car that could turn us all into pilots

Forget self-driving cars. The race to build the first flying car is now very much on. This week, California-based startup Opener officially threw its hat in the flying car ring with the debut of BlackFly.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2018

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Android Army

From Apple’s charging mat to Google’s modular phone, these gadgets went MIA

Sometimes tech companies unveil a new gadget or tease a new product but never actually deliver. Plans get changed, things go wrong, and products are canceled. It’s time to look at some of the most exciting tech that never materialized.
Gaming

'Super Mario Odyssey' is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console enters its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Mobile

ZTE resumes business once again as U.S. lifts ban on suppliers

Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE announced that it was ceasing operations following a ban imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce. After making key changes, ZTE will soon return to business. Here's everything you need to know.
Gaming

The best PlayStation 4 games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Mobile

Visual snapshots on Google Assistant provides your day at a glance

Google's artificially intelligent bot, Google Assistant, is available on smart home speakers, smart home devices, iOS and Android phones, and it can do a whole lot of work on your behalf. Here are all of its features.
Emerging Tech

Bright idea: Keep your gadgets juiced up with these stellar solar chargers

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Emerging Tech

Geologists discover a quadrillion tons of diamonds that are impossible to reach

Researchers have discovered that there may very well be a quadrillion tons of diamonds buried 100 miles below Earth's surface. The bad part? Sadly, they're impossible to reach right now.
Emerging Tech

Genetically modified bacteria may be the key to plants that fertilize themselves

Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have developed genetically engineered bacteria capable of pulling fertilizer out of thin air. Here's why that's such a potential game-changer.
Emerging Tech

Gotta catch em all: Harvard’s undersea grabber is a Poké Ball for sea life

Harvard’s new folding origami robot grabber is designed to perform delicate feats, such as catching underwater creatures with ease -- and crucially, without injuring them in the process.
Emerging Tech

Moving around in zero gravity is hard. MIT’s solution? Spider-Man’s web shooter

Researchers from MIT have been researching ways for astronauts to easily move around in microgravity. One solution is that they can use Spider-Man-style web shooters to pull themselves around.
Emerging Tech

World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

An amusement park in Germany unveiled the world's first waterslide that requires riders to wear a virtual reality headset. Here's what went into making this waterlogged VR dream a reality.
Emerging Tech

Rolls-Royce is creating a fleet of robotic snakes and beetles to repair planes

Researchers from Rolls-Royce are creating snake and insect-swarm-inspired robots that are designed to crawl inside airplane engines to carry out inspections and perform maintenance.