(JNS) Israel on Wednesday launched its Beresheet 2 project, the country’s second lunar mission. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted the ceremony, which was joined online by schoolchildren, students and volunteers from six space centers around the country. Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay, SpaceIL founder Kfir Damri and CEO Shimon Sarid, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) CEO Boaz Levy, also participated in the event. Beresheet 2, a joint initiative of SpaceIL, IAE and the Israel Space Agency at the Science and Technology Ministry, aims to launch three spacecraft – one orbiter and two landers – to the moon in approximately four years. Alongside its scientific missions and role in advancing international cooperation, an additional aim of the project is to “inspire the next generation of engineers, innovators and dreamers,” according to an official statement.
Science and Technology Minister Shay called the project “groundbreaking and inspiring” and said, “We are pleased to announce that in conversations with the Israel Space Agency, seven countries from five continents have expressed an interest in participating in the project, and that in conversations with the United Arab Emirates, the subject has been raised several times. I have no doubt that Beresheet will once again spark our imagination, redefining the boundaries of the possible and securing Israel’s status as a powerhouse of innovation,” he said.
Israel’s first lunar probe, “Beresheet,” named after the first word and the first book of the Torah (meaning “in the beginning”), lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21, but crash-landed on the lunar surface on April 11, 2019 at the end of its 6.5 million-kilometer (approximately 4 million-mile) journey.
Main Photo: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay display a schematic for the “Beresheet 2” lunar probe, Dec. 9, 2020. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO.