Beresheet funder and initiator tapped to light torch on Independence Day

While Israel didn't become the fourth country to land on the moon, it did make it into an exclusive club of seven that achieved a moon orbit.

April 15, 2019 20:49
2 minute read.
President of SpaceIL Morris Kahn with Canadian-Israeli businessman Sylvan Adams at IAI

President of SpaceIL Morris Kahn with Canadian-Israeli businessman Sylvan Adams at IAI's MBT Space Divisio. (photo credit: ELIRAN AVITAL)


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Morris Kahn, the philanthropist who sponsored the Beresheet probe to the moon, and Kfir Damari, one of three initiators of the project, will jointly light a torch at the 71st Independence Day ceremony in May, Culture Minister Miri Regev announced Monday.

Regev, who heads the Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols, confirmed the recommendation made by the public committee that chooses the torch-lighters. The committee reasoned that SpaceIL – the private company that developed and operated Beresheet – has been active for eight years advancing scientific and technological education in Israel and pushing innovation boundaries.

On Thursday, Beresheet narrowly failed at landing safely on the moon after a 49-day journey from Earth and successfully passing many complex maneuvers on the way. Just moments before the landing, the SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries scientists lost contact with the spacecraft, which then crash-landed on the moon’s surface.

While Israel didn’t become the fourth country to land on the moon, it did make it into an exclusive club of seven that achieved a moon orbit.

Millions closely followed Beresheet over the course of its mission and initial disappointment at the unsuccessful landing quickly made way for national pride of SpaceIL’s achievement.

Kahn has already announced his intention to fund a second Beresheet probe, promising that Israel will make it to the moon.

Regev said Kahn and Damari “belong to a group of dreamers that merit to fulfill their visions. The Beresheet initiative, which started as a far-off dream, soared through the skies and came into touching distance of the moon.”

She further praised their creativity, bravery and endurance, and said she is sure Israel will soon make it to the moon.

“Beresheet was a huge step on Israel’s path, a small country with big dreams, which will be realized on the moon,” Regev said.

Kahn said lighting a torch on Independence Day would be a great honor, but the moon-landing dream was not over just yet.

“The goal of the association, our donors and our partners in the IAI, is to inspire the young generation to dare to dream and not to fear the journey,” he said. “In that I feel that we succeeded – we created the ‘Beresheet Effect.’ We are not giving up on the goal that we set for ourselves, and before us is a new and exciting path: Beresheet 2.0.”

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