Israel is set to launch an unmanned spacecraft named Beresheet from Cape Canaveral, US, with the hope of becoming only the fourth country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon.

Weighing 600kg, including fuel, the $100m Beresheet is said to be the smallest spacecraft by weight.

The spacecraft will travel an aggregate distance of 6.5 million kilometres before landing on the lunar surface on 11 April. It will be launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Only Russia (1966), the US (1969), and China (2013) have so far managed to land a spacecraft on the Moon.

“IAI, together with our partners at SpaceIL, will continue to do everything necessary to ensure the success of this mission.”

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and SpaceIL headed the development of Beresheet under a joint venture. The development began in 2015 and was mostly funded by private individuals.

SpaceIL president Morris Kahn said: “Eight years ago, we ventured on this journey that is now nearing completion in about two months when we land on the Moon. We are making history and are proud to be part of a group that dreamed and realised the vision that many countries in the world share, but so far only three have realised.”

After the spacecraft lands on the Moon, it will measure the Moon’s magnetic field as part of an experiment being conducted in partnership with the Weizmann Institute.

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Israel Space Agency and Nasa reached an agreement under which the latter installed a laser retroreflector on Beresheet. Nasa will also offer assistance in communicating with the spacecraft on the moon.

Israel Aerospace Industries CEO Nimrod Sheffer said: “The journey to the Moon is fraught with challenges, but thanks to the professionalism, determination and faith of all the partners in the project, an Israeli spacecraft will be launched to the Moon in the coming days.

“IAI, together with our partners at SpaceIL, will continue to do everything necessary to ensure the success of this mission.”