Israel’s space aspirations have suffered a setback after some of the major donors to its widely anticipated Beresheet 2 lunar mission pulled their funding, SpaceIL announced.
The withdrawal of donations is not related to SpaceIL, its partners or the Beresheet 2 mission. Rather, it is due to a need to invest in other sectors of Israeli society.
"After investing together with my partners $45 million in the Beresheet 2 mission, it is with a very heavy heart that we have to come to the decision to stop our funding."Morris Kahn
“After investing together with my partners $45 million in the Beresheet 2 mission, it is with a very heavy heart that we have to come to the decision to stop our funding,” Morris Kahn said on behalf of the donors. “These times obligate us to invest our resources and time in other philanthropic projects.”
He added that they will continue to support the organization’s educational activities.
The Beresheet 2 mission is Israel’s long-awaited second attempt at landing a spacecraft on the Moon and has been in development for three years. It follows the first Beresheet mission, which technically succeeded in landing on the Moon – the control room had lost contact with the lander shortly before touchdown, meaning it crash-landed on the lunar surface.
The mission itself, set to launch in 2025, is comprised of three spacecraft: One orbiter that will stay in space and two landers that will go to the lunar surface. The orbiter would stay in the Moon’s orbit for around five years and help science and education efforts in both Israel and abroad. It is a mission that comes with a lot of hype and has already secured the partnership of NASA as well as talk of collaboration from the UAE.
Altogether, SpaceIL has projected Beresheet 2 as having a total cost of $100 million, so these donors pulled out almost half of the mission’s total funding.
In a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post, SpaceIL said the message from the donors came unexpectedly and they are hard at work finding additional sources of funding.
Specifically, “In order to keep the mission going and maintain momentum, we need to raise around $10 million in the short term,” SpaceIL said.
“The Beresheet is a symbol of innovation, dreams and hopes,” SpaceIL co-founder and deputy CEO Kfir Damari said in a statement.
“We will do everything in our power to pursue Beresheet’s vision and continue to be a source of inspiration for future generations of young Israelis throughout the country.”