SpaceIL
SpaceIL is participating in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. Photo by Screenshot
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Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife have donated $16.4 million to SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

SpaceIL, a participant in the prestigious Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, announced the donation in a press release on Wednesday.

"Sheldon and I are very excited to be supporting SpaceIL in an effort to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon," said Dr. Miriam Adelson. "As an Israeli-born physician and scientist, I am especially proud of the positive impact the pursuit of this goal will have on the next generation of young Israelis, and frankly all young people, as it serves an important example of the role science and technology continue to play in our everyday lives and across the world."

SpaceIL is building the world’s smallest spacecraft, at a cost that is currently estimated at $36M. The company aims to show that space exploration is no longer limited to global superpowers with vast space programs, and that any group, small country or university can get involved and contribute to advancing scientific discovery.

Founded by three young engineers at the end of 2010, SpaceIL currently has a full-time staff of close to 20, over 250 volunteers, and a network of hundreds of renowned academics, business leaders, and industry experts.

Aside from landing on the moon, SpaceIL’s collective vision is to create what it calls an Israeli "Apollo Effect" – inspiring the next generation about science, technology, engineering and math and helping to fill country’s urgent need for more scientists and engineers.

The initiative is supported by funding from Morris Kahn, the Schusterman Family Foundation, Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Space Agency, Bezeq, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute.

"As an entrepreneur, nothing is as thrilling as supporting a group of people who have been told that their dreams cannot be realized. For a group of scientists and engineers, in one of the world's smallest countries, to be able to reach such an accomplishment is incredible. We are proud to support Israel and SpaceIL prove that dreams do come true and that hard work, vision, and dedication are rewarded. We stand proudly with SpaceIL in this extraordinary endeavor," said. Sheldon Adelson.