SpaceIL logo.jpg
FoundersYariv Bash, Kfir Damari, Yonatan Winetraub
Founded atIsrael
TypeNon-profit, public
Legal statusActive
PurposePromote 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
Staff (2019)
30 [1]

SpaceIL[2] is an Israeli organization, established in 2011, that was competing in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a spacecraft on the Moon.[3] SpaceIL successfully launched its Beresheet lander on 22 February 2019, which is expected to land on the Moon's surface on 11 April 2019.[4][5][6] 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.[7] Israel would also become the fourth country, after the Soviet Union, United States, and China, to land a spacecraft on the Moon.[8]

The SpaceIL team was founded as a nonprofit organization wishing to promote scientific and technological education in Israel.[9] 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).[10]


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.[11][12]

In April 2014, American philanthropist Sheldon Adelson donated US$16.4 million to the project,[13] 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.[14]

By June 2017, the lander spacecraft was undergoing integration and testing,[14][15][16] and in August 2017, Google Lunar XPrize announced an extension of the prize competition deadline to 31 March 2018,[17][18] but the contest ended without a winner as no team launched before the deadline.[19] 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.[20] The amount required was produced by a few major donors.[21] By July 2018, the project had cost approximately US$95 million.[15][needs update]

By January 2019, testing was complete and the spacecraft was delivered to Orlando, Florida in preparation for launch[22][6][23] The mission was successfully launched on 22 February 2019.[4]

The current CEO is Ido Anteby, and the President of SpaceIL remains Morris Kahn.[15]

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;[7] 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[24] and donated US$27 million to the project.[25][7]

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.[26] SpaceIL has over 200 members, 95% of them are volunteers. By 2017, SpaceIL volunteers reached over 250,000 pupils all around Israel.[citation needed] The founders of the team stated that if they had won the competition, the money would have been donated to educational purposes.[26]

After building the Beresheet lunar lander, its prime contractor Israel Aerospace Industries is contemplating the possibility to build several commercial landers.[16]

Beresheet lander

Beresheet lander
Beresheet model on Habima Square 20190222 01.jpg
Full size model of the Beresheet Moon lander
NamesSparrow (2011-2018)
Mission typeTechnology demonstrator
OperatorIsrael Aerospace Industries[27] and SpaceIL
SATCAT no.44049
Mission durationplanned: 2 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeLunar lander
ManufacturerSpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries[16]
Launch mass585 kg (1,290 lb)
Dry mass150 kg (330 lb)
Dimensionsdiameter: 2 m (6.6 ft); height: 1.5 m[29]
Start of mission
Launch date22 February 2019 1:45 UTC[4] [5]
RocketFalcon 9 B5
Launch siteCCAFS SLC-40
Moon lander
Landing dateLunar capture: 4 April 2019
Landing: 11 April 2019 (planned)[30]
Landing siteMare Serenitatis[31]
Beresheet planned landing site in 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.[32] Its net mass is 150 kg (330 lb), when fueled at launch: 585 kg (1,290 lb).

Its Mission Control Room is Israel Aerospace Industries in Yehud, Israel. It uses seven ground stations, globally, as to earth-lander communication.[33]


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.[8][34][35][36]

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.[37][38]


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.[10][39]


In October 2015, SpaceIL signed a contract for a launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight Industries.[15][40] It was launched on 22 February 2019 at 0145 UTC (2045 local time on 21 February).[4][6][23] as a secondary payload, along with the telecom satellite PSN-6.[41]

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.[42]

Planned landing site

The planned landing site is at the north of Mare Serenitatis,[31] and the landing zone is about 15 km (9.3 mi) in diameter.[43]

Beresheet will operate for an estimated 2 days on the lunar surface,[15] as it has no thermal control and is expected to quickly overheat.[44] Its laser retroreflector requires no electrical power and is expected to operate for several decades. (See: List of retroreflectors on the Moon)


  1. ^ SpaceIL Team. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Triumphing Challenges on The Way to the Moon - The Incredible Story of SpaceIL (interview with co-founder Kfir Damari on Startup Camel Podcast)". Startup Camel. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  3. ^ "One Giant Step for Israel as Company Plots Moon Launch". The Forward. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d Graham, William (21 February 2019). "SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite launch and Israeli moon mission". Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b Pietrobon, Steven (8 December 2018). "United States Commercial ELV Launch Manifest". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b c SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare launch to send a commercial lander to the Moon in 2019. Eric Ralph, Teslarati. 12 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b c First private space probe on the moon could bring new era of space exploration, NBC News Mach, 11 February 2019, accessed 19 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (21 February 2019). "After SpaceX Launch, Israeli Spacecraft Begins Journey to the Moon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  9. ^ "SpaceIL | מנחיתים חללית ישראלית ראשונה על הירח". Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  10. ^ a b Jonathan Amos (21 February 2019). "Israel's Beresheet robot sets its sights on the Moon". BBC News Online.
  11. ^ "Israel slated to be 4th country to land vehicle on the moon – Israel Hayom". Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  12. ^ "Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)".
  13. ^ "Israel space project gets $16 million boost from casino mogul Adelson". Reuters. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  14. ^ a b "On the way to the Moon: the Ministry of science will increase the investment in SpaceIL (in Hebrew)". Ynet. June 29, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e Winner, Stewart; Solomon, Shoshanna (10 July 2018). "Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b c IAI studying follow-on opportunities for SpaceIL lunar lander. Jeff Foust, Space News. 17 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Guidelines". Google Lunar XPRIZE. 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  18. ^ "Google-sponsored private moon race delayed for the fourth time". New Scientist. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  19. ^ "Ex-Prize: Google's $30 Million Moon Race Ends with No Winner".
  20. ^ Yaron Drokman (November 23, 2017). "SpaceIL: If we don't raise enough money by January 2018, we will have to close the project" (in Hebrew). Ynet.
  21. ^ SpaceIL - About Our Major Donors. SpaceIL. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
  22. ^ "CAL Cargo Airlines carries Israeli lunar spacecraft to Florida for launch - Air Cargo World".
  23. ^ a b Ronel, Asaf (10 July 2018). "First Israeli Spacecraft to Head to Moon on Back of Elon Musk's SpaceX Rocket". Haaretz. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Public Board". SpaceIL website. SpaceIL. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  25. ^ Price, Lilly (11 July 2018). "Israel plans mission to the moon using smallest spacecraft to ever make the journey". USA Today. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  26. ^ a b SpaceIL still aims to launch עתידות: עד 2017 תנחת חללית ישראלית על הירח (By 2017, an Israeli spacecraft will land on the moon). Haaretz, October 7, 2015.
  27. ^ This 'Sparrow' lunar lander may soon make Israel the 4th country ever to land the moon. Dave Mosher, Business Insider. 14 August 2018.
  28. ^ SpaceX Delays Launch of First Private Lunar Lander Without Explanation. Kristin Houser, Futurism. 18 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019". BBC News. 10 July 2018.
  30. ^ Israeli spirits soar as Moon launch countdown begins, 18 February 2019
  31. ^ a b Here's (almost) everything you need to know about Israel's Moon lander. Jason Davis, The Planetary Society. 8 November 2018.
  32. ^ SpaceIL, IAI to send time capsule on Israel's historic Moon mission. SpaceIL website. Accessed on 17 December 2018.
  33. ^ SpaceIL - Technology. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
  34. ^ Holmes, Oliver (2019-02-20). "Israel to launch first privately funded moon mission". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  35. ^ Shafi Musaddique (21 February 2019). "Israel to take 'digital bible' to space as it becomes fourth country to land on the Moon". Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  36. ^ "SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite launch and Israeli moon mission –".
  37. ^ Potter, Sean (2018-10-03). "NASA, Israel Space Agency Sign Agreement for Commercial Lunar Cooperat". NASA. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  38. ^ NASA Video (2018-11-29), NASA Announces New Moon Partnerships with U.S. Companies, retrieved 2018-12-03
  39. ^ Contact, Press; Senior Vice President, Communications; Enlidraxe.jalupnndibe@bynahimmdfo.ozcoqjmjt; +4790853270. "Nammo's British Rocket Engine Powers Israel's Mission to the Moon". Mynewsdesk.
  40. ^ Google Lunar XPrize, 7 Oct 2015
  41. ^ SpaceIL making final fundraising push for lunar lander mission. Jeff Foust, SpaceNews. 14 December 2017.
  42. ^ "Recalculating Route: The plan of spacecraft's trajectory has been completed". SpaceIL. July 2018.
  43. ^ Landing site selection for the SpaceIL mission to the Moon. Yuval Grossman. Lunar And Planetary Science. Conference XLVIII. March 2017.
  44. ^ With SpaceIL launch, its to the moon and beyond for Israel. Yaakov Lappin, Heritage. 11 January 2019.

External links

  • Official website
  • Beresheet orbit tracking