(JTA) – NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency and the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL to collaborate on the Jewish state’s unmanned moon mission slated to launch from Cape Canaveral next year. The landing would culminate eight years of collaboration on the $88 million project. If it succeeds, Israel will become the fourth country to reach Earth’s rocky satellite. The spacecraft’s journey to the moon will last about two months. The Israeli craft will be the smallest to land on the moon, weighing only 1,322 pounds. Upon its landing, the spacecraft plans to take photos and video of the landing site while also measuring the moon’s magnetic field as part of a Weizmann Institute scientific experiment. According to the new agreement, announced Wednesday, NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL will share data with the U.S. space agency from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft. In addition, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to take scientific measurements of the SpaceIL lander as it lands on the moon.
CAP: Artist’s concept of the Israeli Sparrow craft on the lunar surface