A Canadian Jewish billionaire gave Israel’s space effort a $5 million boost this week, a month before the country’s first spacecraft is expected to take-off for the moon.
Sylvan Adams, who made aliyah in 2015 and later brought the Giro d’Italia bike race to Israel, committed the money on his 60th birthday during a tour of the facilities in which the spacecraft is being assembled.
The project aims to make Israel the fourth country to land a craft on the surface of the moon, and is being led by SpaceIL, a non-profit initiative led by three friends who refused to give up after failing to win a $20 million lunar prize from Google in March.
The trio hope to create an “Apollo effect” in Israel, to encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and Adams said this played a big part in his reasoning.
“I believe that sending the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon will inspire Israeli school children to take up STEM studies and think about space exploration, and especially to believe that everything is possible,” he said.
The main funder of the SpaceIL project is South Africa-born Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, who has donated $27 million. He thanked Adams this week, adding: “We are now in the final stretch.”
The Israeli craft is expected to launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral next month, with a two-month journey to the moon ahead of touchdown on 13 February 2019.
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