Government to inject $5.6 million into Beresheet 2 project

"The Beresheet project fascinated and united all Israeli citizens," Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said.

May 6, 2019 02:32
2 minute read.
Beresheet takes a selfie minutes before touching down on the moon

Beresheet takes a selfie minutes before touching down on the moon . (photo credit: SCREENSHOT SPACEIL YOUTUBE)


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The Ministry of Science’s Israel Space Agency (ISA) will contribute NIS 20 million toward Beresheet 2, a second mission to land an Israeli spacecraft on the Moon, Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said on Sunday.

Speaking at the government’s weekly cabinet meeting, Akunis said the government body would double the NIS 10m. contribution made to SpaceIL’s first, ill-fated Beresheet project, which crash-landed in the Sea of Serenity on April 11.

The ISA, Akunis added, has already turned to NASA to request its further involvement in the second lunar effort, after the US agency provided the original mission with laser retro-reflector technology to improve communication with the module before, during and after its intended landing.

“The Beresheet project fascinated and united all Israeli citizens in anticipation of a successful landing on the Moon,” said Akunis.

“The enormous public interest, along with breakthrough technological achievements, sharpened the need to increase the tremendous mobilization for the success of the project.

“I have no doubt that the decision to double the government’s support and deepen cooperation with America’s space agency will contribute to the success of Beresheet 2 and its successful landing on the Moon.”

The first Beresheet mission budget stood at approximately NIS 350 million – almost entirely financed by private donors and costing a fraction of the missions sponsored by the governments of the three countries that have successfully reached the Moon to date - the United States, Russia (then called the USSR), and China.

Morris Kahn, the lead donor behind the project, has already held several meetings with the SpaceIL team to plan for Beresheet 2.

The meetings focused on setting the objectives for the future mission, completing the current investigation into the crash of Beresheet, setting a budget and recruiting resources and staff. SpaceIL hopes to complete the second mission within two years, the organization said.

According to a preliminary investigation conducted by SpaceIL, a command intended to correct a malfunction in one of the Beresheet spacecraft’s inertial measurement units led to a chain of events that turned off its main engine during landing.

The malfunction occurred only minutes before Beresheet, developed in partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries, was due to complete a historic landing after a 6.5 million km. journey since it blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on board a SpaceX rocket on February 22.

While the spacecraft attempted to restart its engine several times, the attempts proved unsuccessful, making a crash landing on the moon inevitable.

The results of the full investigation into the crash are expected to be published later this month.

After landing, Beresheet was designed to photograph its Sea of Serenity landing site and snap a selfie. Its key scientific mission, however, was to measure the Moon’s magnetic field as part of an experiment carried out in collaboration with Rehovot’s Weizmann Institute of Science.

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