Engineering faculty at Tel Aviv University, where SpaceIL is based
|Named after||"Beresheet" or "Genesis", meaning "In The Beginning"|
|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) contest to land a spacecraft on the Moon. SpaceIL successfully launched its Beresheet lander on 22 February 2019 at 01:45 UTC; it entered lunar orbit on 4 April 2019 at 14:18 UTC. On 11 April 2019, during the landing procedure, a problem occurred in the final minutes of flight. Communications were lost with the spacecraft, long enough for the braking process to fail, and the vehicle crashed on the lunar surface. The Beresheet mission had included plans to measure the Moon's magnetic field at the landing site, and was carrying a laser retroreflector, and a "time capsule" containing analog and digital information, created by the Arch Mission Foundation. Beresheet was the first Israeli spacecraft to travel beyond Earth's orbit and was the first privately funded landing on the Moon. Though the spacecraft crashed, Israel became the seventh country to make lunar orbit and the fourth country, after the Soviet Union, the United States, and China to attempt a soft landing 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 (US$2,083,333), after having donated 2 million ILS (US$555,556) 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 could raise the additional $20M. The amount required was produced by a few major donors. According to Israel Aerospace Industries, the project had cost approximately US$100 million.
By January 2019, testing was complete and the spacecraft was delivered to Cape Canaveral, Florida in preparation for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The mission was successfully launched on 22 February 2019.
The current CEO is Ido Anteby, and the President of SpaceIL remains Morris Kahn.
On 11 April 2019, when its main engine malfunctioned during descent, the lander crashed on the Moon's surface. Though the mission ultimately failed, Israel was the seventh country to have a spacecraft orbit the Moon.
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 University. 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. 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 (4.9 ft)|
|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
|Landing site||Mare Serenitatis|
Beresheet was 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 on the Moon.
The lander was previously known as Sparrow, and was officially named Beresheet (Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית, "Genesis") in December 2018. Its net mass was 150 kg (330 lb); when fueled at launch its mass was 585 kg (1,290 lb). Size-wise, it had been compared to a washing machine. It used seven ground stations, globally, for Earth-lander communication. Its Mission Control room is at Israel Aerospace Industries in Yehud, Israel.
The spacecraft carried a "time capsule" created by the Arch Mission Foundation, containing over 30 million pages of analog and digital data, including a full copy of the English-language Wikipedia, the Wearable Rosetta disc, the PanLex database, the Torah, children's drawings, a children's book inspired by the space launch, memoirs of a Holocaust survivor, Israel's national anthem (Hatikvah), the Israeli flag, and a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Its scientific payload included a magnetometer supplied by the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science to measure the local magnetic field, and a laser retroreflector array supplied by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to enable precise measurements of the Earth–Moon distance.
The spacecraft featured one LEROS 2b liquid-propellant, restartable rocket engine, using monomethylhydrazine (MMH) fuel and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON) as oxidizer. This single engine was used to reach lunar orbit, 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 booster, via Spaceflight Industries. It was launched on 22 February 2019 at 0145 UTC (20:45 local time on 21 February) as a secondary payload, along with the telecom satellite Nusantara Satu (formally PSN-6). Beresheet is being controlled by a command center in Yehud, Israel.
From 24 February to 19 March, the main engine was used four times for orbit raising, putting its apogee close to the Moon's orbital distance. The spacecraft performed maneuvers so as to be successfully captured into an elliptical lunar orbit on 4 April 2019, and then adjusted its flight pattern into a circular orbit around the Moon. Once in the correct circular orbit, it was intended for the craft to decelerate for a soft landing on the lunar surface on 11 April 2019.
Beresheet was to operate for an estimated two Earth days on the lunar surface, as it had no thermal control and was expected to quickly overheat. However, its laser retroreflector was a passive device requiring no electrical power and was expected to be functional for several decades. (See: List of retroreflectors on the Moon.)
On 11 April 2019, at approximately 1900 UTC, the lander began its de-orbit and landing procedure. Within minutes before the expected landing, mission control received a "selfie" photograph from the probe with the lunar surface visible in the background. During the braking procedure on approach to the landing site, the craft's main engine stopped operating. The engine was brought back online following a system reset; however, the craft had already lost too much altitude to slow its descent sufficiently. The spacecraft arrived at the surface of the moon, but at a speed and angle that did not allow for a soft landing. Having apparently crashed, communication with the lander ended. SpaceIL announced the failure at 1925 UTC. Final telemetry values on the mission control screens showed an altitude of 149 m (489 ft), and horizontal and vertical velocities of 946.7 m/s (2,118 mph) and −134 m/s (−300 mph), respectively.
On April 13, SpaceIL announced plans for a second attempt to the Moon, Beresheet 2, but on June 26, 2019 SpaceIL said in a statement that the second mission will not target the Moon, and instead it will be to another undisclosed object.
- SpaceIL Team. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
- "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. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "One Giant Step for Israel as Company Plots Moon Launch". The Forward. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Graham, William (21 February 2019). "SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite launch and Israeli moon mission". NasaSpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- Pietrobon, Steven (8 December 2018). "United States Commercial ELV Launch Manifest". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
- SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare launch to send a commercial lander to the Moon in 2019. Eric Ralph, Teslarati. 12 September 2018.
- First private space probe on the moon could bring new era of space exploration, NBC News Mach, 11 February 2019, accessed 19 February 2019.
- Chang, Kenneth (21 February 2019). "After SpaceX Launch, Israeli Spacecraft Begins Journey to the Moon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
- "SpaceIL chief: 'Beresheet 2 starts tomorrow; we'll put our flag on the moon'". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 13 April 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "SpaceIL | מנחיתים חללית ישראלית ראשונה על הירח". www.spaceil.com. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- Jonathan Amos (21 February 2019). "Israel's Beresheet robot sets its sights on the Moon". BBC News Online.
- "Israel slated to be 4th country to land vehicle on the moon". www.israelhayom.com. Israel Hayom. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- "Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)".
- "Israel space project gets $16 million boost from casino mogul Adelson". Reuters. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
- "On the way to the Moon: the Ministry of science will increase the investment in SpaceIL (in Hebrew)". Ynet. 29 June 2017.
- Winner, Stewart; Solomon, Shoshanna (10 July 2018). "Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- IAI studying follow-on opportunities for SpaceIL lunar lander. Jeff Foust, Space News. 17 September 2018.
- "Guidelines". Google Lunar XPRIZE. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
- "Google-sponsored private moon race delayed for the fourth time". New Scientist. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
- "Ex-Prize: Google's $30 Million Moon Race Ends with No Winner".
- Yaron Drokman (23 November 2017). "SpaceIL: If we don't raise enough money by January 2018, we will have to close the project" (in Hebrew). Ynet.
- SpaceIL – About Our Major Donors. SpaceIL. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
- http://www.iai.co.il/2013/32981-49176-en/MediaRoom.aspx. Missing or empty
- "CAL Cargo Airlines carries Israeli lunar spacecraft to Florida for launch". aircargoworld.com. Air Cargo World.
- 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.
- "SpaceIL lander crashes on moon". SpaceNews.com. 11 April 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- "Public Board". SpaceIL website. SpaceIL. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
- 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.
- 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.
- This 'Sparrow' lunar lander may soon make Israel the 4th country to land the Moon. Dave Mosher, Business Insider. 14 August 2018.
- SpaceX Delays Launch of First Private Lunar Lander Without Explanation. Kristin Houser, Futurism. 18 December 2018.
- "Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019". BBC News. 10 July 2018.
- Israeli spirits soar as Moon launch countdown begins, 18 February 2019
- Here's (almost) everything you need to know about Israel's Moon lander. Jason Davis, The Planetary Society. 8 November 2018.
- SpaceIL, IAI to send time capsule on Israel's historic Moon mission. SpaceIL website. Accessed on 17 December 2018.
- SpaceIL - Technology. Accessed on 6 March 2019.
- Holmes, Oliver (20 February 2019). "Israel to launch first privately funded moon mission". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- Shafi Musaddique (21 February 2019). "Israel to take 'digital bible' to space as it becomes fourth country to land on the Moon". www.euronews.com. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- "SpaceX launches Indonesian satellite launch and Israeli moon mission". NASASpaceFlight.com.
- "The first library on another celestial body". www.archmission.org. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Potter, Sean (3 October 2018). "NASA, Israel Space Agency Sign Agreement for Commercial Lunar Cooperat". NASA. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- NASA Video (29 November 2018), NASA Announces New Moon Partnerships with U.S. Companies, retrieved 3 December 2018
- Contact, Press; Senior Vice President, Communications; Enlidraxe.firstname.lastname@example.org; +4790853270. "Nammo's British Rocket Engine Powers Israel's Mission to the Moon". Mynewsdesk.
- Google Lunar XPrize, 7 Oct 2015
- SpaceIL making final fundraising push for lunar lander mission. Jeff Foust, SpaceNews. 14 December 2017.
- staff, T. O. I. "Israeli lunar craft successfully completes first maneuver". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
- "Beresheet lander on course for the moon". 19 March 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- "Recalculating Route: The plan of spacecraft's trajectory has been completed". SpaceIL. July 2018.
- Landing site selection for the SpaceIL mission to the Moon. Yuval Grossman. Lunar And Planetary Science. Conference XLVIII. March 2017.
- With SpaceIL launch, its to the moon and beyond for Israel. Yaakov Lappin, Heritage. 11 January 2019.
- "Israel's Beresheet spacecraft fails to land safely on the moon". www.jpost.com. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- Chang, Kenneth (11 April 2019). "Moon Landing by Israel's Beresheet Spacecraft Appears to End in Crash". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
- SpaceIL: Beresheet won't attempt moon landing, will seek another challenge. Eytan Halon and Hagay Hacohen, The Jerusalem Post. 26 June 2019.
- Israeli team will no longer send a second spacecraft to the Moon. Natt Garun, The Verge. 26 June 2019.