Israeli nonprofit that built Beresheet-1 raises $70 million for Beresheet-2

SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit company that built the Beresheet-1 lunar lander/rover that crashed just before landing in 2019 has now raised $70 million of the $100 million it needs to build Beresheet-2.

SpaceIL said the new pledges means that it has raised almost all of the $100 million it estimates is needed for the mission to meet its 2024 launch target. SpaceIL said the funding would come from South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, who bankrolled much of the first mission, French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi and South African philanthropist Martin Moshal, co-founder of venture capital firm Entree Capital.

A number of the engineers who helped build the first Beresheet have since moved on, forming their own company as well as getting hired by the American startup rocket company Firefly. Still, there is no reason Beresheet-2 cannot be built and flown, especially if SpaceIL focuses on rebuilding it rather than redesigning something new. They came very close to a success, and probably only need some tweaking to make the next attempt succeed.

Beresheet-2 will have two landers instead of one

The new colonial movement: SpaceIL, the Israeli non-profit company that built the failed Beresheet-1 lunar lander, yesterday announced its plans to build Beresheet-2, this time with an orbiter and two lunar landers, and launch it by ’24.

The two landers would be much smaller than the first spacecraft — about 260 pounds each, fully fueled, compared with a bit less than 1,300 pounds for Beresheet — and they would land on different parts of the moon. The orbiter would circle the moon for at least a couple of years. The three spacecraft of Beresheet 2 would together weigh about 1,400 pounds.

Even though the designs would be new, they would reuse many aspects of Beresheet, and the founders said they had learned lessons that would increase the chances of success for the second attempt. SpaceIL will again collaborate with Israel Aerospace Industries, a large satellite manufacturer.

SpaceIL is looking for funding from both private and Israeli government sources. It is also looking for funds from other nations, a decision which revealed the most intriguing part of this announcement:

SpaceIL hopes that international partnerships will pay for half of the cost of Beresheet 2. Mr. Damari said the United Arab Emirates, a small but wealthy country in the Persian Gulf that has set up an ambitious space program in recent years, was one of seven nations interested in taking part. He declined to name the other six.

If this flight ends up to be a partnership between Israel and the United Arab Emirates it will send shockwaves through the Arab world, most especially among the supporters of the terrorist leaders ruling the Palestinian territories.

SpaceIL gets $1 million grant for building Beresheet-2

The Israeli non-profit that built Beresheet-1 has received a $1 million grant in order to pursue building Beresheet-2.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation has provided a one million dollar grant to SpaceIL to support the “Beresheet 2” spacecraft program and advance the goal of landing an unmanned Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. “Beresheet 1”, launched on February 22, 2019, made Israel the 7th country in the world to reach the Moon’s orbit. The new Blavatnik grant will enable SpaceIL to recruit a new CEO to drive plans for “Beresheet 2” forward.

It remains unknown whether Beresheet-2 will ever get built. The money is insufficient to build a new lunar lander. Moreover, several of SpaceIL engineers have left the company and formed their own private space business, partnering with Firefly Aerospace to build their own lunar lander.

Israel still aims for second attempt to land on Moon

According to an official with Israel’s government-owned aerospace manufacturer, Israel is still planning a second Beresheet mission to land an unmanned probe on the Moon, despite the failure of Beresheet earlier this year.

But despite the hard landing, Israel has no intent to stop chasing the moon, Hayun said. (Shortly after the crash, the SpaceIL organization behind the mission suggested it would target a different destination than the moon; it’s unclear what will happen on that front.) The team behind Beresheet has mostly stayed on, he said during his presentation, and they intend to fly a new version of the lander within two or 2.5 years.

The successor spacecraft would include some design tweaks meant to increase the mission’s odds of landing softly. New versions will carry upgraded computers and, unlike the original Beresheet spacecraft, will be armed with an obstacle-avoidance system for landing. But Israel’s future landers will still be compact and still work with rideshare launches, Hayun said.

As much as I sincerely hope this happens, I am somewhat skeptical. First of all, a number of key Israeli engineers left SpaceIL to form a partnership with the U.S. company Firefly. Second, this presentation appears to have been very vague on where they intend to get their funding. If anything, it appears to be a sales effort to find that money.

SpaceIL decides Beresheet-2 will not be lunar mission

The new colonial movement: The Israeli nonprofit company SpaceIL has decided that its second Beresheet spacecraft will not go to the Moon.

The association’s board of directors decided to involve the public in the process of choosing the challenge that Beresheet 2 will lead, as was done in the national mission to the moon. At the same time, the association will continue to focus on establishing the values ​​of the “Beresheet effect” among the younger generation in Israel.

What I think is really going on is that they have realized that they cannot raise the necessary cash to fly another lunar lander, and are therefore setting their sights lower in order to find a mission they can fund.