Israel Announces Return Moonshot and UAE May Join

Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries' space division, speaks beside the SpaceIL lunar module, in a special "clean room" where the space craft is being developed, during a press tour of their facility near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries …
AP/Ilan Ben Zion

Israel announced plans Thursday to send a second spacecraft to land on the moon, after its first effort crash-landed last year.

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL, which is behind the venture, made the announcement about Beresheet 2 alongside President Reuven Rivlin and Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay.

According to Shay, the United Arab Emirates has expressed a keen interest in being involved in the project.

Last April, Beresheet 1 was set to make Israel the fourth country to land on the moon. But it wasn’t meant to be, and the car-sized spacecraft crashed on the lunar surface. Beresheet 1 was the world’s first privately funded moon lander, with a cost of $100 million.

SpaceIL said the new lander, which it hopes to launch in early 2024, will comprise three spacecraft – one orbiter and two landers. When it approaches the lunar surface, the orbiter will split off from the craft and the landers will settle in two different sites.

“Just a year and a half ago, we were here together, when Israel held its breath and looked to the stars. We anxiously watched the Beresheet spacecraft on its historic journey to the moon,” Rivlin said.

“We watched its long journey, were in wonder at the researchers and were filled with pride at the Israeli daring and ability that flourished right here and at the groundbreaking work of Space IL. We were disappointed, and realized that we had to start once again from the beginning,” he added.

“Today, we are setting out on a new path, familiar but different, at the end of which we hope to land three spacecraft safely on the moon,” said the president, adding that “the project will extend the boundaries of human knowledge with groundbreaking scientific experiments, helping us to understand better the universe in which we live.”

Shortly after last year’s crash, billionaire backer and SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn, who funded most of the venture, announced plans for Beresheet 2.

Kahn said three elements motivated him to fund the project. The first was to bring Israel into the space age. The second was to encourage young people to become involved in the sciences. The third element was to make Israelis proud.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for all of us. It’s a uniquely Israeli project,” he told Breitbart News at the time.

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