Israel To The Moon!

If you haven’t already heard, just a few weeks ago on February 22, 2019, Israel continued making history by launching a lunar lander named ‘Beresheet’. They did so with the help of SpaceX. SpaceIL which was established in 2011 decided that same year to start working on the Beresheet project as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which had already begun in 2007; offering private organizations millions of dollars to whomever landed on the moon first. The deadline was extended multiple times, allowing Israel’s own SpaceIL to enter the competition. In 2018 there were five finalists, which included SpaceIL, however, no one made it to the moon in time for the March 31, 2018 deadline. This meant that no one would win any of the US$30 million in prize money. Although the competition was over, Israel never stopped dreaming…

Beresheet’s selfie with Earth from SpaceIL.com

By the end of 2016, Israel’s SpaceIL team was able to sign an actual launch contract, and the only one to continue through with the launch after the end of the competition. SpaceIL turned a dream into a reality and spent years creating the lunar Lander, Beresheet, meaning “Genesis”, which also happens to be the first book of the Torah. Soon enough, Beresheet was built and shipped off toCape Canaveral, Florida, where it was set to take off with SpaceX’s Falcon 9. In the days leading up to take off, Israelis began to feel the excitement. It was not the first time something Israeli has been in space. Torahs and mezuzahs were brought into Space, and Israel’s own Ilan Ramon went into Space, but tragically died in the Columbia Space Shuttle Incident of 2003. Now was the time to bring back a positive association between Israel and Space.

In the early morning hours of February 22 in Israel, and at around 8PM EST on February 21, Jewish people from around the world huddled together in front of their computers to watch this historic send off. The Falcon 9 took off right on time and together, the Jewish people watched history be made as Beresheet went into space and departed from the SpaceX craft. As we hope everything goes smoothly, SpaceIL is expecting a lunar landing on April 11 and will make Israel the fourth country to visit the moon, right behind the USA, Russia, and China. In the words of Theodore Herzl, “If you will it, it is no dream”, and our dream of reaching the Moon is almost complete.

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