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Israeli Firm Could Launch First Privately Funded Mission to the Moon

The nonprofit SpaceIL will use SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceIL

SpaceIL — an Israeli nonprofit competing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition — will use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch its lunar lander into space, the group announced today in Jerusalem. The rocket will launch the team’s vehicle into lower earth orbit sometime in the second half of 2017. From there, the rocket will carry the lander farther into space, and then the spacecraft will propel itself the rest of the way to land gently on the moon.

With today’s announcement, SpaceIL is the first of the 16 Lunar X Prize teams to book a ride off the planet. If the mission succeeds, it will be the first Israeli mission — as well as the first private spaceflight mission — to soft-land a vehicle on the lunar surface.

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.