In 2019, Israel’s first attempt to send a spacecraft to the moon failed when Beresheet 1 crash-landed. The crash came as a huge disappointment after the whole country and many others around the world had followed the project’s progress with baited breath. Despite this, there was immense pride, as SpaceIL became the first private organisation to reach the moon and made Israel just the fourth country to have touched the moon.
Now Israel has announced that it is to try again with the launch of the Beresheet 2 project. The new project was officially started in December with a special event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. The project is led by SpaceIL together with Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israeli Apace Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology.
At the launch event, President Reuven Rivlin said, “Just a year and a half ago, we were here together, when Israel held its breath and looked to the stars. We anxiously watched the Beresheet spacecraft on its historic journey to the moon. We watched its long journey, were in wonder at the researchers and were filled with pride at the Israeli daring and ability that flourished right here and at the ground-breaking work of Space IL.”
He went on to say that despite the disappointment, they are ready to try again and this time they aim to take three spacecraft safely to the moon.
It is hoped that Beresheet 2, which will be comprised of an orbiter and two landers, will begin its journey in around four years. The craft is set to carry “ground-breaking scientific experiments, helping us to understand better the universe in which we live.”
According to the Minister of Science and Technology, Yizhar Shai, seven countries from around the world have expressed an interest in taking part in the project.
Shimon Sarid, the CEO of SpaceIL, was also present at the event and he said, “We are aiming high with Beresheet. Not just to outer space, but to the long-term future of the State of Israel. We will do it by raising curiosity and hope, the ability to dream and realize and through strengthening technological education, research, science and engineering for Israeli students. By doing so, we will ensure Israel’s technological mobility for today’s schoolchildren who are tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.”
If all goes to plan, the landers will touch down on two different sites on the moon in order to run various experiments. It is hoped that the orbiter will circle the moon for many years and it will also be used for scientific experiments as well as educational activities.
The development, planning and engineering of the project is to be led by Israel Aerospace Industries. They will be carrying out the system integrations within the spacecraft, and in doing so, adopting all the lessons learned from the first mission.
The project has a budget of around $100 million. It is expected that the spacecraft will weigh roughly 630kg, with each lander weighing approximately 120kg before landing and 60kg after landing. While there can be no guarantee of success, if all goes to plan, in 2024 Israel will have yet another milestone achievement under its belt.