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Spaceflight gets Israeli moon lander set for launch

SpaceIL lander
SpaceIL’s lander is on display in a clean room. (SpaceIL Photo / Eliran Avital)

SpaceIL’s lunar lander is go for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that’s due to send a telecommunications satellite into geosynchronous orbit, Seattle-based Spaceflight announced today.

The launch, expected early next year, would represent the first Spaceflight rideshare mission to go beyond low Earth orbit. And Israel-based SpaceIL’s mission would represent the first non-governmental landing on the moon.

Spaceflight timed its announcement to coincide with Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris. It said rideshare opportunities to geosynchronous transfer orbit, or GTO, would be made available every 12 to 18 months, or as customer demand requires.

Although Spaceflight didn’t identify the primary payload for Spaceflight’s first GTO mission, it’s thought to be the PSN-6 telecommunications satellite, which was built for Indonesia’s PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara by SSL, a Maxar Technologies subsidiary. This would be the first combined launch for Spaceflight and SSL.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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