SpaceIL, the non-profit Israeli organization in the Google Lunar XPRIZE international competition, has qualified for the final stage of the modern-day race to the moon.
The sole Israeli team represented in the race to land a spacecraft on the moon, qualified for the final stage of the international competition.
SpaceIL, the non-profit Israeli organization in the Google Lunar XPRIZE international competition, is one of only five teams to make it to the finals alongside India’s Team Indus, Team Hakuto from Japan, Moon Express from the United States and the multi-national team, Synergy Moon. These are the only teams who successfully achieved a key competition marker: the signing of a launch contract, symbolizing a teams’ “ticket to the Moon.”
This achievement positioned Israel one step closer to joining the prestigious circle of superpowers who have already reached the moon, joining the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.
The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, which began in 2007, originally attracted 33 teams from around the world. This international Moon Race stimulates private groups to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. Within a few years, most of the competitors dropped out upon realizing the depth and complexity of the challenge, bringing the race down to 16 teams. Google Lunar XPRIZE management subsequently announced that teams unable to produce launch contracts by the end of 2016 would be automatically eliminated.
Now, at the start of the final year of the competition, the die is cast: only five teams have verified launch contracts – with Israel’s SpaceIL the first to have reached that milestone – and remain as competition finalists.
‘Israel at the Forefront of Global Technology’
“We have waited for this moment for a long time. Being announced as finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition officially confirms what we always knew: Israel is at the forefront of global technology. SpaceIL emerging as a competition finalist enhances our team’s ability to ‘shoot for the Moon’. Our hard work over the past six years is bearing fruit and we’re looking forward to the historic day of SpaceIL’s launch and to see the first Israeli spacecraft landing on the moon,” stated Dr. Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL.
SpaceIL received a generous contribution from businessman Sami Sagol, whose significant donation brings the spacecraft closer to a moon landing. Sagol joins other philanthropists, including Mr. Morris Kahn, the Adelson Family Foundation, the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Bezeq, the Israel Space Agency and others. In addition, the organization enjoys the support of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Israel Aerospace Industries and leaders from academic institutions such as the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University.
Businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn, founder of Amdocs, chairman of SpaceIL, said: “I am proud to have Sami and Tova Sagol join me, Sheldon and Dr. Miri Adelson and others, in supporting this innovative, history-making project. Sami’s devotion to brain research – to humans living longer and better lives – is inspiring. The Sagols have displayed a remarkable commitment to philanthropy, to projects that showcase what Israel can do, and how Israeli ingenuity is changing the world for the better.”
SpaceIL also received encouragement and support from Israeli singer and songwriter Aviv Geffen who, in his upcoming annual “Rock Ball” concert, will highlight the team’s successes in celebration of 20 years since his hit song, Or Yare’ah (Moonlight). Geffen himself stated: “SpaceIL is an ambitious project in a Google competition, aiming to land an Israeli spacecraft on the Moon next year. Obviously since SpaceIL is shooting for the Moon, I found it interesting, as a person who looked up to the Moon at night from the day I was born,” Geffen stated.
The competition is slated to end in late 2017 when the team is expected to launch Israel’s first-ever spacecraft to the moon.