Directly after witnessing the crash of the Beresheet spacecraft on the lunar surface on Thursday, SpaceIL Chairman Morris Kahn began making plans for the next effort to reach the moon. On Saturday evening, he announced the establishment of Beresheet 2 lunar mission. Kahn intends to lead the second Israeli spacecraft to achieve a lunar landing.
“In light of the wonderful messages of support and encouragement and excitement I received from all over the world, I decided that we’re going to establish Beresheet 2,” Khan said.
“We’re going to put a new spacecraft on the moon and we’re going to complete the mission. Tomorrow [Sunday] morning – first thing- we have a task force – we’re going to sit down and plan the project and begin the work.”
— Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) 2019(e)ko apirilaren 13(a)
“We’ll get the funds from donors and the public,” he said. “Everybody wants to take part. I got an offer from someone rich in the US who offered to pay a lot of money but I think the funds should come from the public. This should be a people’s project.”
SpaceIL co-founder Yariv Bash said it would take about two or three years to get another prototype ready for a moon landing.
After eight years and $95 million, Beresheet launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 22. The spacecraft was two meters (6.6 feet) diameter and 1.5 meters high and weighed 585 kilos when it began its journey but most of that was the fuel that propelled it into space. It was the first non-government moon-shot. The lander was intended to measure the Moon’s local magnetic field to help understand how it formed. It also carried a digital time capsule containing over 50 million pages of data, including a copy of the Bible, the blue-and-white flag, a copy of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, a full copy of Wikipedia, a recording of Israel’s national anthem (Hatikva) children’s drawings and memories of a Holocaust survivor.
SpaceIL was the only Israeli competitor in the canceled international competition, the Google Lunar XPRIZE. To win the first prize of $20 million, competitors were supposed to make a soft landing (without crashing) on the moon; travel 500 meters on, above or below the surface of the moon; and send high definition video and pictures back to Earth. In the end, no prize was awarded, but SpaceIL said it is determined to continue its mission and launch the spacecraft, regardless of the international competition.
Had Beresheet landed successfully, it would have made Israel only the fourth country to land on the moon. When it orbited the moon, it made Israel only the seventh country to do so.