Published On: Sat, Jul 30th, 2016

Israeli & American Teams Lead Google Space Challenge

buzz aldrin on the moon


Two teams are currently leading the race to reach the moon for the second time in the history of humanity: An American team called Moon Express and a team from Israeli, Space IL. The two teams have until December 31, 2017, to complete Google’s Lunar XPRIZE challenge, CNN has reported.

To win the Google prize, one of the teams must be the first to land its spacecraft on the surface of the Moon again, to travel 500 meters above, below or on the lunar surface, and send live video transmissions back to Earth, all by December 31, 2017.

The first team to successfully complete the mission will receive a $20 million prize, though that will be only a fraction of the total cost of building, launching, and landing a spacecraft on the moon.

The runner-up will take $5 million back home. Besides the two grand prizes, Google is also offering smaller prizes for any teams that reach certain milestones in the development of their project.

The Israelies are optimistic: “Based on Israel’s space-proven satellite technology, as well as its leadership in nanotechnology and high tech, I believe we have an excellent chance of getting there first, ” they say.

Participants are coming from all over the world, including thirty private teams from 16 different countries;- from the United States, Chile, Malaysia, India, Canada, Brazil, Hungary, Japan, Germany, Italy, Israel and many international collaborations.


spaceil 2 Google’s Lunar XPRIZE


While many of the competing teams represent private companies, SpaceIL itself is a not-for-profit endeavour with 17 full-time employees and advisors, as well as 260 volunteers who come in at odd hours, keeping the project running day and night, and even over the weekends.

CNN’s report said: “Israel’s space industry is a result of what many consider to be the country’s first startup: the Israel Aircraft Industries’ Lavi. In the early ’80s, Israel began developing an advanced, single-engine fighter jet, called the Lavi. The program was canceled in 1987 after the country spent approximately $1.5 billion on it. But the scientists and engineers who had worked on the program took their technical knowhow into the Israeli marketplace. One year later, Israel launched its first satellite, called Ofek.”

In an interview with Jewish Business News, Dr. Eran Privman, an expert in computer science and neuroscience said “Back in the 1960s, the Apollo moon landing had an amazing impact, turning scientists into cultural heroes and inspiring a generation of students to study math, science and engineering. This is called the ‘the Apollo effect, ’” said Privman. “With SpaceIL, we’re not waiting for the landing to take place before we get the word out. Through our lectures and workshops, we’ve already reached 40, 000 Israeli schoolchildren, and we’ve started working with an American NGO (the iCenter) to bring word of what we’re doing to Jewish children in the United States, ” says Bash.

“Not only is this a great way to connect Jews all over the world with Israel in a the context of a positive image, we’re also breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ in terms of science and education. We’re saying: ‘look at what we’re doing – this could be you!’ If even two or three percent of the kids we reach take up the challenge, we’ll have accomplished far more than just a trip to the moon, ” concludes one of team leaders, Yariv Bash.







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