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A portion of the team (Yanki Margalit, Shimon Peres, and Yariv Bash) in December 2011 (left) and a model of the SpaceIL spacecraft, called 'Sparrow', was presented at the 66th IAC in October 2015

SpaceIL[1] is an Israeli nonprofit organization, established in 2011, that was competing in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a spacecraft on the Moon.[2] The contest declared no winner, but SpaceIL still aims to launch the spacecraft.[3] Its total budget is estimated at US$70 million, provided mainly by philanthropists.

SpaceIL's entry is unique among GLXP contenders, in that instead of building a tracked or wheeled rover, SpaceIL plans 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.[4][5]

SpaceIL team was formed as a nonprofit organization wishing to promote scientific and technological education in Israel.[6] The founders of the team stated that if they had won the competition, the money would have been donated to educational purposes.[7] SpaceIL has over 200 members, 95% of them are volunteers. By 2017, SpaceIL volunteers reached over 250,000 pupils all around Israel.

Founders and supporters[edit]

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. Eran Privman is the CEO of SpaceIL. Morris Kahn is the Chairman of the board and a major donor to the organization.[8] The team is supported by Israel Space Agency, 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.[7]

In April 2014, American philanthropist Sheldon Adelson donated US$16.4 million to the team.[9]

In June 2017, The Israeli Space Agency announced that it will donate additional 7.5 million NIS in the project, after having donated 2 million NIS in previous years.[10]

Launch reservation[edit]

In October 2015, SpaceIL signed a launch contract to book a launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight Industries.[11] Their 500-kilogram spacecraft is informally called 'Sparrow'.[12]

Prior to this, in early 2015, Google had announced that the deadline for winning the prize would be extended to December 2017 if at least one team can show a verified launch contract by December 31, 2015.[13] GLXP officials announced that the SpaceIL contract met the requirements and the incentive prize contest would continue through the end of 2017.

In August 2017, Google Lunar Xprizes announced an extension of the deadline to 31 March 2018.[14][15]

Project status[edit]

By June 2017, the spacecraft was undergoing integration and testing.[10] On 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.[16]

In January 2018, the X Prize Foundation announced that the competition deadline will not be extended beyond 31 March 2018.[17] SpaceIL has announced that it will continue to raise funds in order to reach the Moon by the end of 2018.[18][19]


  1. ^ "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. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "One Giant Step for Israel as Company Plots Moon Launch". The Forward. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Shamah, David (12 February 2013). "Israeli space cadets say Moon shot is no fantasy". Times of Israel. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Israel slated to be 4th country to land vehicle on the moon – Israel Hayom". Retrieved 2017-09-12. 
  5. ^ "Israeli XPrize Mission Science Twist: Map Lunar Magnetism (Op-Ed)". 
  6. ^ "SpaceIL | מנחיתים חללית ישראלית ראשונה על הירח". Retrieved 2017-09-12. 
  7. ^ a b SpaceIL still aims to launchעתידות: עד 2017 תנחת חללית ישראלית על הירח (By 2017, an Israeli spacecraft will land on the moon.) Haaretz, October 7, 2015
  8. ^ "To the moon and back". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2017-09-12. 
  9. ^ "Israel space project gets $16 million boost from casino mogul Adelson". Reuters. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "On the way to the Moon: the Ministry of science will increase the investment in SpaceIL (in Hebrew)". Ynet. June 29, 2017. 
  11. ^ Google Lunar XPrize, 7 Oct 2015
  12. ^ An Israeli Moonshot. Lee Billings, Scientific American. 17 March2016.
  13. ^ Google Lunar X-Prize webpage: noscroll Deadline For $30 Million Google Lunar XPRIZE Extended To End Of 2017, May 22, 2015, accessed 15 June 2015)
  14. ^ "Guidelines". Google Lunar XPRIZE. 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2017-08-24. 
  15. ^ "Google-sponsored private moon race delayed for the fourth time". New Scientist. Retrieved 2017-08-24. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "Ex-Prize: Google's $30 Million Moon Race Ends with No Winner". 
  18. ^ "SpaceIL updates: we aim to continue builing our satellite and plan to launch by 2018". 24 January 2018. .
  19. ^ SpaceIL making final fundraising push for lunar lander mission. Jeff Foust, Space News. December 14, 2017.

External links[edit]