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. The contest declared no winner, but SpaceIL still aims to launch the spacecraft in 2019.
SpaceIL team was formed as a nonprofit organization wishing to promote scientific and technological education in Israel. Its total budget is estimated at US$70 million, provided mainly by philanthropists and the Israel Space Agency (ISA).
SpaceIL began as part of the Google Lunar X Prize, which offered $30m (£23m) in prizes to inspire people to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The 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 on the lunar surface by having the lander "hop" from its landing site to another site 500 meters away using rocket propulsion.
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 NIS, after having donated 2 million NIS in previous years.
In November 2017, SpaceIL announced they need $30M to finish the project. Morris Kahn resigned from chairing the board, and promised $10M if the organization can raise the additional $20M. The current CEO is Ido Anteby, and the President of SpaceIL remains Morris Kahn. As of July 2018, the project has cost approximately $95 million.
Founders and supporters
The founders of the team are: Yariv Bash, former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, and currently Flytrex CEO; Kfir Damari, a Computer Networking lecturer; and Yonatan Winetraub, formerly a satellite systems engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries, and currently a biophysics PhD Candidate at Stanford. Morris Kahn is the President the board  and donor of $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.
|Mission type||Technology demonstrator|
|Operator||SpaceIL and Israel Space Agency|
|Mission duration||planned: 2 days|
|Manufacturer||SpaceIL and Israel Space Agency|
|Launch mass||585 kg|
|Dry mass||150 kg|
|Start of mission|
In October 2015, SpaceIL signed a contract for a launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight Industries. It will be launched as a secondary payload on a Falcon 9, whose primary payload is a commercial communications satellite. The 585-kilogram lander is informally called Sparrow. Once Sparrow is in Earth orbit and separated from the Falcon 9 launcher, and after several orbits around Earth, the spacecraft will slowly perform orbit raising. The orbit raising would take 2.5 month before reaching the Moon's area of influence. Once there, the spacecraft will perform manuevers to be captured in a Lunar orbit, and orbit around the Moon between two weeks and 1 month. In the right orbit around the landing site, it will decelerate until soft-landing on the lunar surface.
- Dimensions: about 2 m (6.6 ft) in diameter and 1.5 m high.
- Mass: 585 kg (1,300 lb) at launch; approximately 400 kg of that mass is propellant.
- Science payload: magnetometer by the Weizmann Institute of Science
- Operation time: 2 days
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- SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare launch to send a commercial lander to the Moon in 2019. Eric Ralph, Teslarati. 12 September 2018.
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- 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.
- Winner, Stewart; Solomon, Shoshanna (10 July 2018). "Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
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- 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
- Google Lunar XPrize, 7 Oct 2015
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- An Israeli Moonshot. Lee Billings, Scientific American. 17 March2016.
- "Recalculating Route: The plan of spacecraft's trajectory has been completed". SpaceIL. July 2018.
- 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.
- Israeli unmanned spacecraft to land on Moon in 2019. BBC News. July 2018.