Israel is headed for the moon. Its first spaceship designed for a moon landing is set to take off later this evening from Florida. The move marks the first privately-funded lunar mission.
The explorer was built by an Israeli nonprofit space venture called SpaceIL using money given almost exclusively by private donors.
Takeoff is expected to happen at 8:45 p.m. ET Thursday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The robotic explorer will be unmanned and will be sent on top of a Falcon 9 rocket made by Elon Musk’s Space X. Space X had 21 successful Falcon 9 launches in 2018. The final launch of 2018 had the rocket carry a new GPS III satellites for the U.S airfare into space, marking the company’s first national security mission.
If successful, the explorer, called Beresheet, should arrive on the moon in April after a two-month journey through space.
Currently, the United States, former Soviet Union, and China have been the only ones to successfully land on the moon’s surface.
Last year, SpaceIL was one of five finalists that failed to claim any part of the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million 21st century space race to send the first private mission to the Moon.
SpaceIL does not plan to continue after this mission.