Startup behind 2019 crash landing moves ahead with new lunar mission
Israeli startup SpaceIL is gearing up for a second attempt to land the first ever privately-funded spacecraft on the Moon, after securing funds for a new mission with even loftier goals. The announcement comes two years after the company's original Beresheet spacecraft crash-landed on the lunar surface, and is slated for launch in 2024.
The first Beresheet spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral in early 2019 and blazed a history-making trail into space, becoming the first private Moon mission to successfully lift off, and then the first private mission to enter the Moon's orbit. Its landing attempt in April that year ended in failure, however, crashing into the surface and leaving behind thousands of indestructible tardigrades.
SpaceIL has been eyeing off another attempt to reach the Moon, outlining plans for its Beresheet 2 mission late last year. Earlier this week it confirmed it had secured US$70 million in funding towards the estimated $100-million mission, enough for it to set the wheels in motion.
Israel Back on Track to the Moon: SpaceIL Obtains Crucial Financing round for the Launch of the “Beresheet 2” Spacecraft in 2024!— Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) July 11, 2021
Patrick Drahi, Martin Moshal and Morris Kahn will donate together US$ 70 million in favor of the mission. #Beresheet2 #Backtothemoon pic.twitter.com/ksNQdwIJ3g
According to the Associated Press, the mission is aiming for another hosts of firsts. It will actually comprise three spacecraft – an orbiter and two landers – and will attempt to pull off a double landing and touchdown of the lightest ever lunar landers, which weigh just 60 kg (132 lb) apiece without fuel.
Additionally, SpaceIL plans to land these on the far side of the Moon, a feat only achieved so far by China's Chang'e 4 probe. The orbiter, meanwhile, is expected to remain in space for years and serve as an educational platform for students to take part in deep-space research on a remote basis.
SpaceIL says development will commence "shortly" on the Beresheet 2 spacecraft, and it will accept proposals for integrated science experiments throughout that process ahead of an expected launch in 2024.