SpaceIL heading back to space, mission to Mars on the horizon

"Despite the fact that Beresheet crashed, hundreds of kids wrote to us saying we inspired them to become engineers and scientists," co-founder Damari said. "If they can dream it, they can do it."

SpaceIL co-founders Kfir Damari (L), Yonatan Weintraub (C) and Yariv Bash (R) take a selfie in front of a model of the Beresheet spacecraft, near the control room, in Yahud, Israel, April 11, 2019 (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
SpaceIL co-founders Kfir Damari (L), Yonatan Weintraub (C) and Yariv Bash (R) take a selfie in front of a model of the Beresheet spacecraft, near the control room, in Yahud, Israel, April 11, 2019
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Kfir Damari, co-founder of SpaceIL, has revealed that Israel's next planned mission to the moon is just three years away, according to the Russian-based online publication Sputnik News.
The announcement comes seven months after Israel's spacecraft Beresheet failed to achieve its anticipated landing safely on the moon during its first attempt in early April.
The Israeli space start-up is also planning on a Mars exploration mission. Damari said that even though the project will be much more costly and require a large amount of donations, he believes it is still a possibility.
The initial Beresheet project took nearly eight years and more than $100 million of funding to complete. But according to Damari's projection, the team will need a little less than half the time to prepare its next moon mission attempt: Beresheet II.
"The second attempt will take us about three years and will be significantly cheaper than the first project, costing roughly $80 million," Damari told Sputnik. "First because we already have the experience, the know-how and the design, and second because we learned from past mistakes."
As the unmanned spacecraft approached the moon on April 11, SpaceIL lost contact with Beresheet several times. The scientists kept hope as the connection was restored, but just minutes before the spacecraft was supposed to touch down, contact was lost again and it inevitably crashed onto the moon.
Damari said that he never "views the endeavor as a failure," however, claiming that the first attempt helped the company identify mistakes that it can learn from and apply that knowledge to the second attempt. He added that the initial goal was to educate and inspire children to fill out the ranks of future generations of scientists.
"For us, it was a success story because we wanted to make a difference, and we did," Damari told Sputnik. "Despite the fact that Beresheet crashed, hundreds of kids wrote to us saying we inspired them to become engineers and scientists. So all I want to do is to fulfill the potential of these kids and show them that if they can dream it, they can do it."
While most governments fund their space explorations efforts from state funds, Israel only funded 2.5% of the $100 million project.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly stated after the moon landing attempt that the state would pour more funding into the next mission, this time covering 9.375% of the $80 million dollar second attempt.
Netanyahu, who was at hand to watch the landing, said that Israel will continue to try landing on the moon. "Israel will land on the moon!" he said.
In comparison to previous years, "Israel is now investing more money into this industry, after it realized that space projects can boost the country's economy," Damari recalled. "But I remember that back in 2011, we were close to despair thinking the project would never succeed, simply because we didn't have the budget. We didn't even have the money to pay next month's salaries," he said.
The co-founder added that the company could not rely on and survive by employing a complete staff of full-time employees, and instead relies on a workforce consisting primarily of volunteers to complete the project.
"Luckily for SpaceIL, we had thousands of [volunteers], but looking for them was tough," Damari explained. "Also, as time went by, the world changed and that presented a challenge, too."
Beresheet was the size of a compact car. The spacecraft was said to look like a far-out washing machine and weighed about 1,300 pounds (590 kg.) at launch, most of which was fuel.

Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.