Israeli Team Clinches Finalist Spot in International Moon Race Competition!

SpaceIL, the non-profit Israeli organization in the Google Lunar XPRIZE international competition has qualified for the final stage of this Modern Moon Race. The competition is slated to end in late 2017 when the team is expected to launch Israel’s first-ever spacecraft to the Moon.

Meanwhile, the team has announced the receipt of a generous donation from Israeli businessman Sami Sagol.

The organization also received encouragement and support from Israeli singer and songwriter Aviv Geffen who, in his upcoming annual “Rock Ball” concert, will highlight the team’s successes in celebration of twenty years since his hit song, “Or Yare’ach (Moonlight).”

A significant achievement for Israel: SpaceIL, the sole Israeli team represented in the race to land a spacecraft on the Moon, qualified for the final stage of the international competition. SpaceIL is one of only five teams to make it to the finals alongside India’s Team Indus, Team Hakuto from Japan, Moon Express from the United States and the multi-national team, Synergy Moon. These are the only teams who successfully achieved a key competition marker: the signing of a launch contract, symbolizing a teams’ “ticket to the Moon.” This achievement positioned Israel one step closer to joining the prestigious circle of superpowers who have reached the Moon already; the country would join the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition which began in 2007 originally attracted 33 teams from around the world. This international Moon Race stimulates private groups to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. Within a few years, most of the competitors dropped out upon realizing the depth and complexity of the challenge, bringing the race down to 16 teams.  Google Lunar XPRIZE management subsequently announced that teams unable to produce launch contracts by the end of 2016 would be automatically eliminated. Now, with the end of 2016 and the start of the final year of the competition, the die is cast:  only five teams have verified launch contracts – with Israel’s SpaceIL the first to have reached that milestone – and remain as competition finalists.

Dr. Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL, said today: “We have waited for this moment for a long time. Being announced as finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition officially confirms what we always knew:  Israel is at the forefront of global technology. SpaceIL emerging as a competition finalist enhances our team’s ability to ‘shoot for the Moon’. Our hard work over the past six years is bearing fruit and we’re looking forward to the historic day of SpaceIL’s launch and to see the first Israeli spacecraft landing on the Moon.”

Meanwhile this week, SpaceIL received a generous contribution from businessman Sami Sagol whose significant donation brings the spacecraft closer to a Moon landing. Sagol joins other philanthropists including Mr. Morris Kahn, the Adelson Family Foundation, the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Bezeq, the Israel Space Agency and others. In addition, the organization enjoys the support of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Israel Aerospace Industries and leaders from academic institutions such as the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University.

Businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn, founder of Amdocs, major supporter and Chairman of SpaceIL, said: “I am proud to have Sami and Tova Sagol join me, Sheldon and Dr. Miri Adelson and others, in supporting this innovative, history-making project. Sami’s devotion to brain research – to humans living longer and better lives – is inspiring.  The Sagols have displayed a remarkable commitment to philanthropy, to projects that showcase what Israel can do, and how Israeli ingenuity is changing the world for the better.”  About singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen’s support, Kahn continued, “There is no doubt that talented and unique people are involved in this project, and I’m glad that the Israeli artist Aviv Geffen, one of the most important singer songwriters in Israel, has decided to join the project. I shared quite a few hours in his company. For him, it’s part of his special connection to the Moon as an inspiration in his songs – but above all, Aviv understands and appreciates the importance of the issue for the state of Israel“.

Geffen himself stated: “SpaceIL is an ambitious project in a Google competition, aiming to land an Israeli spacecraft on the Moon next year. Obviously since SpaceIL is shooting for the Moon, I found it interesting, as a person who looked up to the Moon at night from the day I was born.”

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SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on \the Moon. The organization was founded by three young engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub who answered the international challenge presented by Google Lunar XPRIZE: to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon.  SpaceIL is the only Israeli representative. The prize to be awarded to the winners in first place is $20 million.  SpaceIL is committed to contributing all potential prize money to the advancement of science and technology education in Israel, actively working to create an Israeli “Apollo Effect.”  SpaceIL is committed to inspiring the next generation in Israel and around the world to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In October 2015, SpaceIL reached a dramatic project milestone by becoming the first team to announce a signed launch contract. The launch will take place on an American SpaceX rocket. In January 2017, SpaceIL became one of the competition’s five finalists.  For further information, please contact Oshrat Slama Grozman, VP Marketing Communications, SpaceIL: +972-54-4768462 oshrat@spaceil.com

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