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.

Emerging Tech

A Fitbit for your cat shit: Automatic litter box tracks your kitty’s health

It may look like a sci-fi teleportation chamber, but Footloose is a high-tech litter box that promises to be the most cutting-edge way for your kitty to take a dump. Here's how it works.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these 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.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

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

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

This 3D-printed house made of earth and rice husks costs less than an iPhone

Italian 3D-printing company WASP has just demonstrated the 3D printing of a hut structure using a combination of 3D-printed concrete and a mud-based material. All for around $1,000.
Emerging Tech

Death from above? How we’re preparing for a future filled with weaponized drones

Drones are beginning to enable everything from search & rescue, to the delivery of medicines to hard-to-reach places. But they are also being used as cheap, and deadly flying bombs. How can we defend ourselves?
Emerging Tech

Scientists want to bore holes through clouds using lasers from satellites

Researchers at the University of Geneva in Switzerland have proposed a plan to use ultra-hot and ultra-short laser beams to punch through cloud layers and transmit information from satellites to Earth.
Emerging Tech

Behind the unsettling sci-fi landscapes of Simon Stalenhag’s ‘Electric State’

The narrative artbook follows the journey of a young traveler, Michelle, and her robot, Skip, as they head west to the Pacific coast through an alternative America torn apart by civil war and the trappings of military-grade virtual reality.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Emerging Tech

Get one of the best cheap drones you can buy, and cry less when you crash

Want to get in on all this hot drone action, but don't want to spend half a paycheck to make it happen? There are actually lots of feature-packed budget options. Check out this list of the best drones under $500.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: AI-powered cat toys, wallets, and food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Product Review

Parrot Anafi drone review

It’s definitely not perfect, and there are a few little things that could be improved, but even so, Anafi is unquestionably the best drone that Parrot has ever made.