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Israeli Lunar Landing Mission Struggles with Funding

Israel's Second Lunar Landing Mission Facing Funding Woes

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Dakota W.

Dakota W.

Wed Jul 12 2023Written by Dakota W.

The fate of a second Israeli lander hangs in the balance due to a loss of funding. The Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL experienced a crash with their lunar lander, Beresheet, in April 2019. They expressed their intention to embark on a second mission, called Beresheet 2, which would involve deploying two smaller landers from an orbiter. The mission was initially set to launch in 2025, and a joint statement of intent was issued in January 2023 between the Israel Space Agency and NASA, outlining their collaboration on Beresheet 2. NASA agreed to contribute an instrument and provide communications support for the mission.

However, the funding for Beresheet 2 became uncertain when a group of donors announced in May that they would no longer provide financial support. After investing $45 million, close to half of the estimated $100 million cost, the donors decided to redirect their resources and time to other philanthropic projects. SpaceIL acknowledged the need to find alternative funding to proceed with the mission but has not provided any updates on their progress since then.

Despite the funding challenges, work on Beresheet 2 is still underway, according to Dan Blumberg, the chairman of the Israel Space Agency. In a presentation at the European Lunar Symposium on June 27, he highlighted the organization's desire to surpass their previous mission and foster international collaboration. SpaceIL has agreements with NASA and the German Space agency DLR, with the latter providing a navigation system for the lander. Blumberg also emphasized the educational aspects of the mission, with plans to involve students in controlling the orbiter and selecting areas to photograph during its two-year mission.

While acknowledging the ongoing funding issue, Blumberg expressed confidence in overcoming it without providing specific details. He stated, "There is a funding issue that we are still dealing with, but we're getting there."