“As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” – Yonatan Winetraub
03.45 Jerusalem time… 01.45 London GMT… Israel and the Jewish people are going to achieve the greatest sling shot since King David!
This solidifies Israel as a global technological powerhouse… a start-up nation in science, engineering and innovation.
It will create a culture of learning for a new generation of Israeli children, Jewish children around the world… with emphasis an STEM education.
It’s essentially a private enterprise… one of the greatest achievements in space exploration, without being controlled by a Government, and at a fraction of the cost of anything previous ($100 million)…
ISRAEL IS A SPACE SUPERPOWER!
(Israel has it’s own spaceport!… Palmachim Airbase, and doesn’t really have to rely on America (or Musk) to launch… it’s just some countries get a little paranoid when Israel launches ballistic missiles! and Israel doesn’t want ‘other countries’ potentially obtaining it’s technology)
JERUSALEM, Israel – This Friday, Israel will send its first spacecraft to the moon, a feat President Rivlin calls “Zionism at its finest.”
Israel’s nonprofit SpaceIL organization has announced it will launch a spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket. It is scheduled to land on the moon on April 11.
The project is eight years in the making and if successful, Israel will become the fourth nation to land on the moon – after the US, Russia, and China.
The mission was a collaborative effort between SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries.
The spacecraft is called “Bereishit,” a reference to the first words of the Bible recorded in Genesis: “In the beginning.”
The craft weighs about 1,300 pounds and is about the size of a washing machine. It will take a seven-week journey to the moon.
Dr. Ido Antebi, the CEO of SpaceIL said the mission has two goals. one is called the “Apollo Effect,” to inspire the next generation of Israeli youth in the start-up nation.
“We want the Israeli kids and the Israeli youth to, we want to encourage them to learn STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and informatics – and we hope that they will have this mission we will create the effect and encourage them.”
“The second goal is to promote the space industry here in Israel … And I think we got it – one of the goals is already achieved.”
The mission will last two to three days and once it lands, the craft will take pictures of the lunar surface and conduct experiments.
The spacecraft is also bringing God’s written word to the moon. It will carry a time capsule containing a database of hundreds of files. The files include a copy of the Bible, information about SpaceIL, Israeli national symbols, and other materials.
The capsule will be left on the moon’s surface after Israel completes its mission there.
SpaceIL presented the privately funded project to President Reuven Rivlin Sunday.
Rivlin said it was a dream come true.
“‘Bereishit’ will make history!” He said. “When I was a child, we used to write fortunes on bubblegum wrappers – ‘by the time you’re 21, you’ll go to the moon’. Then, it seemed fantastical, impossible. Until now, only great powers have landed on the moon – the United States, the Soviet Union and China. But if everything goes to plan, the State of Israel – our young and small country – will be the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon.”
A model of the spacecraft is on display at the President’s official residence.
“I am delighted and proud that you decided to turn this project into not just a wonderful technological achievement, but also an educational undertaking. You are an example of groundbreaking, audacious Israeli innovation. This is Zionism at its finest,” Rivlin said.
Morris Kahn, President of Space IL, thanked the president, saying “It is a tremendous achievement and I am proud to be part of it, and that the Israeli flag will soon fly on the moon.”
Bereishit will travel a bit approximately 4 million miles on its journey. It will orbit the earth multiple times to gain enough speed to shoot towards the moon.
On Thursday, an eight-year old Israeli firm named SpaceIL will attempt to become the first private company to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
SpaceIL has booked a flight aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle for its lunar lander named “Beresheet.” This Hebrew word refers to the first few words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning ….”
Should Beresheet land on the lunar surface as planned on April 11, the exploit will also make Israel only the fourth nation to accomplish this feat after the United States, the Soviet Union and China.
Before landing on the Moon, Beresheet will have travelled 4 million miles and will have orbited the Earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots towards the Moon. Beresheet has a propulsion system that will allow it to leave Earth orbit and enter a trajectory around the Moon.
The cost of this Israeli moonshot might also be the cheapest yet. SpaceIL said the total cost of the program, whose funding came from private donations, is just $100 million, or a wee fraction of the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. space program to get its satellites to the Moon.
“This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible,” said Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million to the project. “The only thing is I didn’t realize it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible… We are really making this dream come true.”
A spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) is seen during a presentation by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israeli state-owned Aerospace Industries.
Beresheet stands 1.5 meters tall and is 2 meters in diameter. Its science payload consists of a magnetometer developed by the Weizmann Institute of Science and a laser retroreflector array from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Beresheet is only expected to last about two days on the lunar surface. It has no thermal control system and will eventually overheat and die.
Beresheet was an entry to the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP), and SpaceIL was established to compete at GLXP. This international competition challenged participating firms to develop, build and land a spacecraft on the Moon. This vehicle should be capable of moving 500 meters in any direction, and transmit live, high-definition video from the lunar surface.
GLXP was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five finalist teams were able able to meet the March deadline for a launch their spacecraft towards the Moon.
How SpaceIL’s ship, dubbed the Beresheet, evolved from a beer-soaked idea to an actual lunar landing.
For one brief moment this week, the world will collectively put down whatever it’s doing and look up towards the heavens. In the night sky above, a tiny spacecraft named Beresheet – Hebrew for “Genesis” – will be lifting off from Cape Canaveral and into the record books.
It won’t be the work of NASA or the European Space Agency, but from an upstart collective from Israel called SpaceIL. Featuring a menagerie of mavericks – including a drone maker, a cancer researcher and a water park magnate – their audacious attempt launches this Thursday night.
So why is this launch such a big deal? Read on…
It will make history
Assuming the mission is a success, Israel will become only the fourth nation to ever land on the moon – after Russia, the U.S. and China. That’s pretty impressive for a country about the size of New Jersey. With about $100 million in donations, it will also become the first-ever privately funded lunar landing. Instead of being funded by a government agency, the money came from tech companies, local universities and a group of dedicated philanthropists – including marine park mogul Morris Kahn, who contributed $40 million to the cause.
The idea was conceived at a bar
Israeli entrepreneurs Yonatan Winetraub, Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari literally came up with the idea for their ship late at night at a bar by the Mediterranean Sea. “As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” Winetraub recalled during a recent interview with From The Grapevine. “And it never faded away.” Nearly a decade later, that booze-filled dream has become a reality.
Google was involved in the early days
The trio of technologists first entered their idea into the Google LunarX Prize back in 2007. The Silicon Valley giant was offering $20 million to the first team that could land on the moon and send back high-definition pictures. Google extended the deadline multiple times hoping for an eventual winner, but to no avail. None of the dozens of teams who entered the contest could make it. So Google finally called off the cash competition in early 2018. But SpaceIL was just months away from finishing construction, and they kept working from a factory in Israel. The machine was finished late last year and was then shipped to Cape Canaveral in January, where it has undergone last-minute testing before the launch.
The ship is the size of a smart car
Early estimates put the Beresheet at about the size of a kitchen dishwasher, but Winetraub told us it’s closer to a smart car. Which is still not that big by space standards. Indeed, it’s likely the smallest spacecraft ever designed for a lunar landing. Aboard the ship will be tools to conduct scientific research on the moon, as well as a time capsule containing drawings by Israeli children and MP3 files of Israeli music. “It is very possible that future generations will find this information and want to learn more about this historic moment,” Winetraub mused.
It will be getting an Uber ride into space
Launching a ship into space can be cost-prohibitive, so the Beresheet is hitching a ride aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. “It’s more like a ride-share,” Winetraub told us, comparing it to an Uber Pool. “There are passengers in the front seat and passengers in the back seat all going up to space.” The rocket will drop off various satellites and other space equipment first and the Israeli spaceship will be the final passenger dropped off. But even then, it still has a ways to go on its own before it reaches the moon. The normally three-day adventure will take closer to two or three months. It’s expected for a lunar landing around late April.
It will conduct scientific research
Besides just landing on the moon, the ship is scheduled to conduct scientific research. A retro-reflector from NASA was installed on the spacecraft, which is an instrument that reflects laser beams and will enable NASA to precisely locate the spacecraft on the lunar surface after the landing. SpaceIL, the Israel Space Agency also agreed that NASA will have access to data gathered by the magnetometer installed aboard the Israeli spacecraft. The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site.
Space startup SpaceIL will launch a craft later this week, with plans to land it on the surface of the moon by April.
Google’s lunar moonshot contest may be dead, but that’s not stopping one company from trying to complete the goal anyway. Google’s contest sought to award the first private company that could land a craft on the moon, and ended in 2018 without a winner. One of the participants, the Israeli aerospace company SpaceIL, announced on Monday that it’s still working on that goal and will attempt a landing in April.
SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby announced his company’s spacecraft schedule at a press conference on Monday. According to Anteby, the spacecraft carrying SpaceIL’s lander, will launch late Thursday night. Once in space, the lander will orbit Earth about six times to build up speed before heading toward the moon a week later. The lander should land on the surface on April 11.
SpaceIL has contracted Elon Musk’s SpaceX to ferry the lander into orbit. The lander, named Beresheet after the first book of the Torah, will ride in a Falcon 9 rocket along with an Indonesian communication satellite and an experimental Air Force mini-satellite.
If SpaceIL is successful, it will become the first private company in history to land a spacecraft on the moon. Beresheet is equipped with a handful of scientific instruments, such as a magnetometer for measuring the moon’s magnetic field, as well as a retroreflector that scientists on Earth can bounce laser beams off to measure the distance from Earth to the moon.
These aren’t particularly advanced scientific instruments, but the scientific discoveries Beresheet will make are secondary to the achievement of reaching the lunar surface at all. Beresheet is proving a point: that it’s possible for a private company or organization to build a lander and get it to the moon using a rocket built by another private company. No longer is moon exploration solely the domain of a handful of wealthy governments, as SpaceIL hopes to prove anyone can land a spacecraft on the moon. Any scientific breakthroughs beyond that are just icing on the cake.
The first privately funded lunar landing is set to blast off on a SpaceX rocket this week.
On Thursday evening, a SpaceX Falcon 9 will launch a small spacecraft on its way to the moon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And if the little lander known as Beresheet makes it all the way to the lunar surface, it’ll mark several milestones that’ve been years in the making.
SpaceIL, the Israel-based nonprofit that’s been working on the lander for eight years, is one of the original Google Lunar XPrize teams. Though the competition ended last year without a winner, SpaceIL is now poised to be the first among nearly 30 teams to make it to the moon on its own anyway.
If the craft makes it, the mission will be the first lunar landing funded entirely by private sources and the first trip to the moon for Israel, joining the United States, Russia and China as the only moon-faring nations.
Measuring in at 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide, the washing machine-size lander will also be the smallest craft on the moon.
Once it’s released by the Falcon 9, about a half-hour after launch, Beresheet’s journey to the surface of the moon will take a few months and involve a complex set of orbits around the Earth to pick up speed and then around the moon to prep for landing. The process is explained in more detail in this video:
On landing, Beresheet will send images, including a lunar selfie, back to Earth. This was one of the original requirements to win the Google Lunar XPrize. The other was to be able to travel a short distance on the surface. A SpaceIL spokesperson told me that Beresheet is unlikely to be able to hop across the surface of the moon, but an attempt hasn’t been completely ruled out.
SpaceIL is definitely planning to use Beresheet to carry out a scientific experiment to measure the magnetic field around it after landing and transmit the data back to Earth.
It’ll also carry a time capsule, including digital files on specially designed discs made to last for eons. The capsule will remain on the moon and is meant to be a “backup” for humanity and includes a copy of all of Wikipedia and lots of other data.
“The interplanetary network of backup locations we have started may even help to enable an interplanetary Internet,” explained Nova Spivack of the Arch Mission Foundation, which created the time capsule. “As we become a spacefaring civilization, we are going to need ways to move big data around the solar system, and protect it in transit, and at each location.”
The name Beresheet means “In the beginning” in Hebrew. SpaceIL is hoping its mission will be just such a genesis for a golden age of Israeli involvement in space.
CEO Morris Kahn described it as a gift to the people of Israel and “part of the Israeli ethos of technology, daring and a generous dose of nerve.”
“Most importantly, it illustrates the loftier achievements that can still be achieved — the know-how, the capabilities and the human capital are all here,” added Nimrod Sheffer, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), in a release.
SpaceIL has worked with IAI, one of Israel’s largest aerospace contractors, to design and build the lander over the past several years. When the Google Lunar XPrize ended, the team went looking for donors and billionaires Kahn and Sheldon Adelson stepped in to contribute about two-thirds of the $100 million dollars (GBP 76.7 million, AUD 140 million) it took to fund the mission.This is another of SpaceIL’s goals beyond just getting to the moon: to prove that it can be done for a fraction of the massive billion dollar budgets superpower space agencies have used to get there.
One consequence of space travel on a budget is that Beresheet has few of the redundancies and backup systems found on spacecraft built by the likes of NASA. So if a key system fails, it’s likely to torpedo the whole mission. A SpaceIL spokesperson told me the mission team is hopeful and confident but that there are no guarantees of success.
Such is the case with most space missions, but in the case of Beresheet, the journey is just as important as the destination. From the beginning, a stated goal for SpaceIL has been “to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
In other words, this buildup to launch and then to landing are just as important as the mission succeeding, because the real goal is not to put a hunk of metal on the moon, but to attract more eyes and imagination to space in general.
Also, that extra copy of Wikipedia is sure to come in handy for settling bar bets at lunar frontier saloons in the coming decades.