Head of SpaceIL says ‘Beresheet 2’ project to launch immediately
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Head of SpaceIL says ‘Beresheet 2’ project to launch immediately

South African-born billionaire Morris Kahn says a new venture is being launched to take Israel to the Moon

Selfie image from Beresheet with Earth in the background (Credit: SpaceIL)
Selfie image from Beresheet with Earth in the background (Credit: SpaceIL)

The Israeli team behind last week’s unsuccessful attempt to land an Israeli scientific research craft on the surface of the moon are lining up to make another attempt.

Backers of SpaceIL, the private venture behind the Beresheet craft, said this week that they would fund Beresheet 2.

SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn, who provided most of the money, said he was backing a new effort “to complete the mission,” while in an exclusive interview with Jewish News, major donor Sylvan Adams said he would think about whether to rejoin the new mission..

“It was a bittersweet moment,” said Adams, after hearing Beresheet’s engine had failed to slow the craft on descent. “We need to understand what went wrong, then give it another go. If we’re successful, we’ll inspire children to study the subjects that took us there. We missed by very little.”

South Africa-born Kahn said: “We are going to actually put a new spacecraft on the moon and we are going to complete the mission. My message for all the youngsters [is] if it doesn’t work at first, stand up, and complete it.”

Beresheet travelled more than 248,000 miles but “technical glitches” meant that it could not slow sufficiently on its lunar descent to make the planned landing, crashing instead into the moon’s surface at 300mph last Thursday.

The world’s most famous astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin and Tim Peake, applauded Israel’s moon-landing effort, which was privately funded.

Aldrin, the Apollo astronaut who was the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, sent his condolences to the SpaceIL team “for what almost was,” adding: “Never lose hope. Your hard work, teamwork and innovation is inspiring to all.”

British astronaut Peake, who finished a six-month stint at the International Space Station in 2016, said it was “disappointing” that Beresheet did not make it safely to the surface. However, he added: “Team SpaceIL have much to be proud of.”

A successful moon landing would have made Israel only the fourth country to manage the feat, and Harel Locker, chairman of Israel Aerospace Industries, said the eight-year project had helped create Israel’s space industry.

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