Genesis Prize Foundation grants $1 million toward another Israeli moonshot


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Genesis Prize Foundation has granted $1 million toward Beresheet 2, a second attempt to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

The first Beresheet mission crash landed on the surface of the moon on April 11.

“This grant deviates from our traditional philanthropy, which focuses on one initiative each year in partnership with our laureates,” Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the foundation, said in a statement. “But in its essence, support of Beresheet 2 is exactly why we established our foundation: to inspire the Jewish people, to strengthen the bond between Israel and the Diaspora, and to instill a sense of pride in Israel’s achievements.”

The foundation each year awards the $1 million Genesis Prize, the so-called Jewish Nobel, to an inspirational Jewish person.

The first Beresheet effort cost nearly $100 million and was mostly funded by donors. The results of an investigation into its crash will be published later this month.

Less than 48 hours after the crash, SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn announced the launch of the Beresheet 2 project. The South Africa-born billionaire donated much of the funding for the first effort.

The spacecraft was developed in response to the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which challenged nongovernmental groups to land a spacecraft on the moon. That challenge finished last year without a winner of the $30 million prize.

But the prize committee decided days after the crash that it would award SpaceIL a $1 million “Moonshot Award” for its achievements.

Beresheet means beginning, and is also the Hebrew name for the Book of Genesis.

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