Israeli team gets set for 2017 moon race

Image: Lunar lander
An artist’s conception shows Team SpaceIL’s lunar lander. (Credit: SpaceIL)

Israeli-based Team SpaceIL has signed up to launch a robotic lander to the moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the latter half of 2017, thanks to an arrangement with Seattle-based Spaceflight.

SpaceIL will be a “co-lead” customer for the launch, the organizers of the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition said in a news release on Wednesday. That makes SpaceIL the first team to provide official verification of its launch contract, and confirms that efforts to put the first privately funded spacecraft on the moon by the end of 2017 will be an honest-to-goodness competition.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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