SpaceX To Launch Israeli Mission To The Moon

In the first, commercial effort to deliver a payload to the moon, Hawthorne-based rocket developer SpaceX is set to launch a robotic mission from an Israeli company to the moon. SpaceIL, an Israeli company which is part of the Google Lunar X Prize, said this week that it has booked a spot on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2017, to launch a robotic probe to the moon. Its payload--developed as part of the Google Lunar X Prize--is targeted at landing what will be the first, Israeli spacecraft to set down on the lunar surface. SpaceIL is hoping to win the Google Lunar X Prize's $20M purse, which challenges non-governmental teams to send high definition video and picctures back to earth, travel 500 meters on, above, or below the surface of the moon, and make a soft landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the moon. SpaceIL is sending its probe to the lunar surface via a deal with Spaceflight, which recently purchased the use of an entire Falcon 9 for a dedicate, satellite launch for a wide range of satellite developers.