The Spacecraft Must Take Off: SpaceIL’s Fully Integrated First Israeli Spacecraft to the Moon Might Stay Grounded

As the construction of the first Israeli spacecraft reaches completion, lack of immediate funds threatens to kill the dream of making Israel the 4th nation to land on the Moon and to inspire the next generation of the Start Up Nation

For Team SpaceIL- Israel’s entry to the Google Lunar XPRIZE Moon Race and a finalist - the spacecraft is just the means: SpaceIL, formed as a nonprofit, thrives to promote science and scientific education in Israel, to ensure Israel’s edge in technology, which is critical to its safety. The team is determined to complete their Moon Shot

SpaceIL completes the construction (integration) of the spacecraft these days, and ready to proceed to the testing phase, which is meant to last several months until the launch. During this phase, the spacecraft will undergo a series of very costly tests in special facilities – at an Israel Aerospace Industries space facility and also facilities abroad – in order to ensure that it is able to withstand the extreme conditions of space. Funds must be raised in this final stretch to make sure the spacecraft will not stay grounded and make it to the Moon.

Up till now, only three superpowers, with the massive resources at their disposal, succeeded to land on the Moon: the USA, Russia and China. SpaceIL wants to prove to the world that even a small country, with a small budget, can join this prestigious club.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition has set in motion the global trend of developing a private sector, less expensive space industry. In Israel, SpaceIL is paving the way for a new local industry of a private sector space industry, which has the potential to become a significant, pioneering hi-tech field, conforming to the global “new space” trend.

Although Team SpaceIL originally started out as a privately sponsored project within the framework of the Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition, it has already stretched the boundaries and has become a national project.

While SpaceIL has undertaken to dedicate the potential prize money ($20 million) to advance scientific and technological education, the nonprofit isn’t waiting for the inspiring event of the launch. “SpaceIL works to educate the next Israeli generation in order to secure Israel’s technological status as “The Startup Nation”, to raise the next Iron Dome and Mobileye developers, if you will”, says SpaceIL CEO, Dr. Eran Privman. “We believe that the impact of our spacecraft’s launch, the historic journey to the Moon, which will last several weeks, will continue to be felt for years, thanks to the educational programs that our team has developed, alongside the technological development of the spacecraft. Our spacecraft is now completed and stopping here is not an option for us, we are working tirelessly to complete our mission- both technological and educational”, says Privman.

SpaceIL aspires to set in motion an ‘Apollo effect’ in Israel, and will inspire Israel’s next generation to study science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). SpaceIL aspires to transform the discourse in Israel, and to motivate the members of the young generation – both male and female – to regard STEM studies as an opportunity for an exciting future.

Since its founding, many have contributed to the project. The main donor is the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Foundation. Additional supporters include Morris Kahn, Sami Sagol, Lynn Schusterman and Steven Grand, among others. The project formed exceptional collaborations between the private sector, the academia and governmental companies. Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel-Aviv University, Israel Space Agency, Israeli Ministry of Science and Bezeq are among SpaceIL’s partners.

To complete its mission, SpaceIL now needs another $20 million by the end of 2017. Businessman, philanthropist and major donor Morris Kahn has pledged another $10 million if the remaining sum of $20 million will be raised from other private donors and from the Israeli government. I I