SpaceIL chief executive Dr. Ido Anteby has stepped down from his position at the organization after heading the Beresheet spacecraft’s unsuccessful attempt to land on the Moon.
Anteby concludes 15 months in the role after succeeding former CEO Eran Privman in February 2018.
Dismissing speculation that the decision might be connected to the unsuccessful outcome of the mission, SpaceIL said the timing of Anteby’s departure was planned since he had assumed the position.
“It was a great privilege to lead SpaceIL and the project during the challenging time of constructing the spacecraft, its testing and its mission to reach the Moon,” Anteby said. “The great success of the project was made possible by SpaceIL’s excellent team and cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries. I would like to thank Mr. Morris Kahn for the opportunity given to me to lead SpaceIL, and for his support for this amazing project.”
Following Anteby’s departure, SpaceIL’s board of directors will form a selection committee, headed by Kahn, to assess suitable candidates for the position of chief executive, who will be responsible for managing the Beresheet 2 project.
“Ido receives much of the credit for the success of the Beresheet project, which was without doubt complex and sensitive given that none of us [had] ever built, launched or landed a spacecraft on the moon,” said Kahn, the lead donor behind the project.
“Ido was required to meet many challenges and withstand an environment of uncertainty. His ability to successfully meet the engineering, budgetary and organizational challenges is worthy of great appreciation. I wish him great success in whatever he chooses to do.”
Anteby joined SpaceIL after three decades at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, previously serving as deputy general manager of the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center.
He holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program.
On Sunday, Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis announced that the Science Ministry’s Israel Space Agency would contribute NIS 20 million toward Beresheet 2, a second mission to land an Israeli spacecraft on the Moon.
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 first Beresheet mission budget stood at approximately NIS 350 million – financed almost entirely by private donors and costing a fraction of the missions sponsored by governments of the three countries that have successfully reached the Moon to date – the United States, Russia and China.
Kahn 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 ongoing 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.