SpaceIL, the organization whose Beresheet spacecraft crashed on the moon’s surface two years ago in a failed landing bid, said Sunday that it has raised $ 70 million from investors for a second mission to the moon’s surface, to begin in 2024.
Funding was obtained from a group of entrepreneurial philanthropists, consisting of Patrick Drahi, from the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation; Morris Kahn and the Kahn Foundation, who also supported the first Beresheet mission; and the Moshal Space Foundation, in partnership with Entrée Capital.
The funding increases the likelihood of fulfilling the launch plan for 2024, SpaceIL said in a statement. The total cost of the mission is estimated at $ 1
The “Beresheet2” mission plans to break several records in global space history, the company said, including a double landing on the moon in a single mission by two of the smallest landing craft ever launched into space, each weighing 120 kilograms (265 pounds) ) half of which is fuel.
As part of the mission, a mother ship will be launched into space, from which the two countries will free themselves. One of them aims to land on the other side of the Moon, which only China has achieved to date, the statement said. The second vessel is scheduled to land at a location not yet determined on the Moon.
The mother ship will meanwhile remain in space for five years and serve as a platform for educational science activities in Israel and around the world via a remote connection that enables students in several countries to participate in deep-space scientific research, it says in the statement.
The first spacecraft from Beresheet crashed into the moon’s surface in April 2019 while trying to land on Earth’s satellite, destroying the hopes of hundreds of engineers who had been working on the project for years.
The spacecraft successfully started the landing sequence, but a few kilometers above the moon’s surface the main engine failed, which means that the spacecraft could not brake properly in time to dampen the landing.
The first spacecraft was budgeted at $ 100 million, a fraction of the cost of vehicles launched by former US, Russian and Chinese powers to the moon. It was a joint venture between private companies SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, funded almost exclusively by private donations from well-known Jewish philanthropists, including South African billionaire Morris Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Lynn Schusterman and others.
The SpaceIL project was launched as Israel’s entry into the Google LunarX challenge for non-governmental groups to land a spacecraft on the moon. Google ended the competition in 2018 without winners, but the Israeli team decided to continue the effort privately.
Following the completion of the funding round for Beresheet 2, a new board of directors was appointed for the organization, which includes representatives of the new donors. Morris Kahn was appointed chairman along with new directors Angelina Drahi, chairman of the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation; Amalia Zarka, general manager of the Drahi Philanthropic Foundation; Tal Granot-Goldstein, CEO of HOT Group; Frank Melloul, CEO of i24news; Aviad Eyal, managing partner of Entrée Capital and the representative of the Moshal Space Foundation; and Dafna Jackson, CEO of the Kahn Family Office. They will join the existing board members, including Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Avi Hasson, Arie Halsband and Ya’acov Levy.
“The Beresheet project is the mission of my life, so I decided to take it up again,” Kahn said. “I plan to do everything in my power to take Israel back to the moon, this time for a historic double landing. As an entrepreneur, I believe that one should constantly seek new challenges and even double the risk. Our upcoming new mission will once again position Israel as a global pioneer, this time in space. “
SpaceIL, founded by Yariv Bash, Yonatan Winetraub and Kfir Damari, is a non-profit organization that strives to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and dreamers through innovative space missions. The organization has hundreds of volunteers and in several years of operation has managed to reach more than two million children, the company said in the statement.
“We are excited to be part of this historic project, which will strengthen Israel’s position as an international arena player and inspire young people across the globe,” said Angelina Drahi. “The Drahi Foundation aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, alongside science education, to position Israel as an international powerhouse in these fields.”