Israel plans new moonshot after maiden mission fails

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The aerospace company behind Israel’s failed first moonshot said on Saturday it would pursue a second mission with funds raised from private donors and the public. The robot craft Beresheet, built by non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), crashed on its final descent on Thursday, dashing Israel’s hope of becoming the fourth country to manage a controlled lunar landing. “I have had time to think, over the weekend, about what happened, and given all of the encouragement I got, and the support from people all over the world I have come tonight to announce a new project – Beresheet 2,” SpaceIL president and high-tech billionaire Morris Kahn told Israel’s Channel 12 TV. The maiden mission cost about $100 million, most of it raised from private donors like Kahn. He said in the interview that Israeli government participation amounted to about $3 million. Private donors were already pledging funds for the new project, Kahn said, but he added that money should come from the public for “a project of the people of Israel@. “We will not rely on government support,” he said. The Beresheet 2 task force would convene on Sunday, he said: “We began something that we shall complete, and we will place our flag on the mission.” IAI said in a statement it would be happy to be part of further space missions in partnership with SpaceIL under Kahn’s leadership”. So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a controlled landing on the lunar surface – the United States, the Soviet Union and China. Launched from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket two months ago, Beresheet – Hebrew for “Genesis” or “In the beginning” – would have been the first craft to land on the moon that was not the product of a government program.

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