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Peres promotes Israeli moon probe

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli space enthusiasts are taking part in an international moon-probe competition.

President Shimon Peres cut the ribbon Thursday on Space IL, a  nonprofit group that will compete for the international Google Lunar X Prize. The challenge is to become the first team to successfully launch, fly and land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. The team also must operate the spacecraft, which will carry an Israeli pennant, across the lunar surface and relay back video.

The first prize is a $30 million grant, which has has stirred dreams in Israel of mounting a manned moon mission.

"The time has come to fly Israel’s flag on the moon," Peres said at the ceremony, which took place at the Israel Aerospace Industries campus near Tel Aviv.

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