|Founders||Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, Yonatan Winetraub|
|Purpose||Promote STEM by building a robotic lunar lander|
|Morris Kahn (Chairman), Ido Anteby (CEO), Daniel Zajfman, Arie Halsband, Isaac Ben-Israel, Kobi Levi, Ilan Lior, Lynne Harrison|
SpaceIL is an Israeli organization, established in 2011, that was competing in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a spacecraft on the Moon. SpaceIL successfully launched its Beresheet lander on 22 February 2019, which is expected to land on the Moon's surface on 11 April 2019. The Beresheet mission includes plans to measure the Moon's local magnetic field, carries a laser retroreflector, and a digital "time capsule". Beresheet would be the first Israeli spacecraft to travel beyond the Earth’s orbit and the first private lander on the Moon. Israel would also become the fourth country, after the Soviet Union, United States, and China, to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
The SpaceIL team was founded as a nonprofit organization wishing to promote scientific and technological education in Israel. Its total budget for the mission is estimated at US$95 million, provided by Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other philanthropists, as well as the Israel Space Agency (ISA).
SpaceIL began as part of the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), which offered US$30 million in prizes to inspire teams to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The SpaceIL entry was unique among GLXP contenders, in that instead of building a tracked or wheeled rover, SpaceIL planned to meet the requirement to travel 500 meters (1,600 ft) on the lunar surface by having the lander "hop" using rocket engine propulsion from its landing site to another site more than 500 meters away.
In April 2014, American philanthropist Sheldon Adelson donated US$16.4 million to the project, and in June 2017, the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) announced a donation of additional 7.5 million ILS, after having donated 2 million ILS[clarification needed] in previous years.
By June 2017, the lander spacecraft was undergoing integration and testing, and in August 2017, Google Lunar XPrize announced an extension of the prize competition deadline to 31 March 2018, but the contest ended without a winner as no team launched before the deadline. Nevertheless, SpaceIL continued development and fabrication.
In November 2017, SpaceIL announced that they needed US$30 million to finish the project. Morris Kahn resigned from chairing the board, and promised $10M if the organization can raise the additional $20M. The amount required was produced by a few major donors. By July 2018, the project had cost approximately US$95 million.[needs update]
The current CEO is Ido Anteby, and the President of SpaceIL remains Morris Kahn.
Founders and supporters
The cofounders of the team were Yariv Bash, former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, and currently Flytrex CEO; Kfir Damari, a Computer Networking lecturer and entrepreneur; and Yonatan Winetraub, formerly a satellite systems engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries and currently a biophysics PhD candidate at Stanford. Morris Kahn is the chairman of the public board and donated US$27 million to the project.
The team has technical support from the Israel Space Agency (ISA), Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Systems and Elbit Systems. SpaceIL is also supported by educational institutions, including the Technion, Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. SpaceIL has over 200 members, 95% of them are volunteers. By 2017, SpaceIL volunteers reached over 250,000 pupils all around Israel. The founders of the team stated that if they had won the competition, the money would have been donated to educational purposes.
Full size model of the Beresheet Moon lander
|Mission type||Technology demonstrator|
|Operator||Israel Aerospace Industries and SpaceIL|
|Mission duration||planned: 2 days|
|Spacecraft type||Lunar lander|
|Manufacturer||SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries|
|Launch mass||585 kg (1,290 lb)|
|Dry mass||150 kg (330 lb)|
|Dimensions||diameter: 2 m (6.6 ft); height: 1.5 m|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||22 February 2019 1:45 UTC |
|Rocket||Falcon 9 B5|
|Launch site||CCAFS SLC-40|
|Landing date||Lunar capture: 4 April 2019 |
Landing: 11 April 2019 (planned)
|Landing site||Mare Serenitatis|
Beresheet is a demonstrator of a small robotic lunar lander. Its aims included: promoting careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and landing its magnetometer and laser retroreflector.
The lander was previously known as Sparrow, and was officially named Beresheet (Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית, "Genesis") in December 2018. Its net mass is 150 kg (330 lb), when fueled at launch: 585 kg (1,290 lb).
The spacecraft carries a digital "time capsule" containing over 30 million pages of data, including a full copy of English-language Wikipedia, the Bible, children's drawings, memories of a Holocaust survivor, Israel's national anthem (Hatikvah), the Israeli flag, and a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Its scientific payload includes a magnetometer by the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science to measure the local magnetic field, and a laser retroreflector array by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to enable precise measurements of the Earth–Moon distance.
The spacecraft features one LEROS 2b liquid-propellant restartable engine using monomethylhydrazine (MMH) fuel and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON) oxidizer. This single engine is used to reach the Moon as well as for deceleration and propulsive landing.
In October 2015, SpaceIL signed a contract for a launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight Industries. It was launched on 22 February 2019 at 0145 UTC (2045 local time on 21 February). as a secondary payload, along with the telecom satellite PSN-6.
Beresheet is in Earth orbit, and after several elliptic orbits around Earth the spacecraft will slowly perform orbit raising. The orbit raising will take 1.5 months before reaching the Moon's sphere of influence. Once there, the spacecraft will perform maneuvers to be captured in a lunar orbit on April 4, 2019 and perform elliptic and later circular orbits around the Moon. Once in the right orbit around the landing site, it will decelerate until soft landing on the lunar surface, planned for April 11, 2019.
Planned landing site
Beresheet will operate for an estimated 2 days on the lunar surface, as it has no thermal control and is expected to quickly overheat. Its laser retroreflector requires no electrical power and is expected to operate for several decades. (See: List of retroreflectors on the Moon)
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