SpaceIL, an Israeli space exploration company, is working to send the first Israeli spacecraft to moon. SpaceIL is one of the several companies competing for a $30million award that will be given to the winner of Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition. By the end of 2015, the winning team will be able to send a craft to the Moon, travel a minimum of 500 meters there and take and transmit back to Earth HSTV photos of it.
SpaceIL is a non-profit organization. If it’s awarded the $30 million by winning the competition, the money would go to paying the already $36 million it has already put into the project. Packed with groundbreaking space exploration innovations, the company is building the smallest spacecraft in the world.
Using the advanced knowledge in micro-satellite technologies held by Israelis, SpaceIL states that it is constructing the “smallest, smartest spacecraft to ever land on the moon.” Knowledge from satellites that were used in defense are being adapted by the team for space exploration. The SpaceIL spacecraft is smaller than a household stove, just 38 inches high and 28 inches wide.
The other 30 teams that are participating in the Google Lunar competition have created large rovers to drive across the Moon’s surface for the required 500 meters, while the Israeli team has taken a unique approach. SpaceIL’s small craft uses the concept of space hopping, which consist of their craft taken off again once on the moon and landing 500 meters away; this requires fuel to be left in the crafts propulsion system after its Moon landing.
SpaceIL has stated that their company’s goal is to inspire the next generation of children in Israel and throughout the world to think differently about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The company has promised to put the Google Lunar XPrize money to help promote science and scientific education in Israel, in order to ensure that Israel will maintain its reputation of greatness in these fields.
Sheldon Adelson , an American casino magnate, and his wife Miriam has recently given $16.5 million to the company.
Its XPrize is described by Google as an, “innovation engine. A facilitator of exponential change. A catalyst for the benefit of humanity.” The company says that its aim is to establish a cheaper way to explore the 95% of the Moon’s surface that has yet to be explored by man.