Israel Space Agency gives $5.6 million to help launch 2nd shot at moon


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Space Agency will put about $5.6 million toward Beresheet 2, a second attempt to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

The 20 million shekels is double the 10 million shekels, about $2.8 million, that the agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Science gave to the first Beresheet mission, which crash landed on the surface of the moon on April 11.

Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis made the announcement Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The agency also has asked NASA to be more involved in the new effort. NASA provided SpaceIL, the private foundation behind the Israeli lunar landing effort, with special laser technology to help in communication with the Beresheet spacecraft.

The first Beresheet effort cost nearly $100 million and was mostly funded by donors.

The results of an investigation into the 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 Beresheet project fascinated and united all Israeli citizens in anticipation of a successful landing on the Moon,” Akunis said in the announcement. “The enormous public interest, along with breakthrough technological achievements, sharpened the need to increase the tremendous mobilization for the success of the project.”

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.

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