First private Israeli lunar mission will launch in February

An Israeli nonprofit says it has pushed back the launch of what it hopes will be the first private spacecraft to land on the moon.

Officials from SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries told reporters Monday that the landing craft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, will ship in February to Florida, where, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon rocket launch, it will commence its months-long voyage to the moon. It had been slated to launch this month.

Israel Aerospace Industries manager Opher Doron stressed that the small craft, roughly the size of a washing machine, faces a “difficult, arduous journey” because it will have to make a number of orbits before landing.

If successful, the team promises the landing will be a breakthrough for Israeli technology and commercial space travel.