Aiming for the moon: Israeli spacecraft secures $70 million for lunar landing

Unprecedented: Israel’s ambitious 2024 moonshot includes two simultaneous landings.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli efforts to return to outer space took a step forward as SpaceIL announced on Sunday it secured $70 million in funding for the Beresheet 2 moonshot. The first Beresheet lander crashed into the moon in 2019.

Landing Beresheet 2 by the target date of 2024 will cost an overall $100 million, according to SpaceIL.

Beresheet 2 will be made up of three craft: a mother craft remaining in orbit around the moon for five years, and a pair of landers with separate missions making simultaneous landings. No nation has ever attempted simultaneous landings.

One lander’s mission will be to explore the far side of the moon. Landing a craft on the moon’s far side is especially difficult because the moon blocks all radio contact with the Earth. In 2019, China became the first and only country to land a craft there by using a a satellite to relay transmissions between Earth and the craft.

In 2019, Israel launched the Beresheet moon lander, which would have been the first privately funded and smallest craft to land on the lunar surface. In another first, the Beresheet was the first lunar craft launched from a rocket as a secondary payload. Beresheet was a “hitchhiker” or secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket whose primary payload was an Indonesian telecommunications satellite.

In initial findings, SpaceIL said Beresheet’s crash was due to a series of technical glitches causing an engine to shut down during its descent. The craft hit the lunar surface at a speed of more than 1,800 mph. SpaceIL never released the findings of its full investigation into the failure.

The primary benefactors for Beresheet 2 are billionaires Morris Kahn, Patrick Drahi and Martin Moshal. Kahn, an entrepreneur, also serves as chairman of SpaceIL. Drahi is French businessman and Israeli national currently living in Switzerland. Moshal is a South African tech entrepreneur.

“I am grateful to our dear donors, who believe in the power of the “Beresheet 2” extraordinary mission to inspire a whole generation of students and dreamers, for their confidence in the ability of SpaceIL to realize this challenging mission, which will place Israel at the front row of global deep-space technology,” SpaceIL CEO Shimon Sarid said in a statement.