The distant blue Earth is seen above the Moon's limb.
A photo of the distant blue Earth above the Moon's limb, taken by the Apollo 8 crew in 1968, courtesy of NASA. Photo by Reuters
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Reuters
The co-founders of SpaceIL Yariv Bash (L), Kfir Damari (C) and Yonatan Winetraub stand next to their company's spacecraft process prototype, February 24, 2014. Photo by Reuters

An Israeli company aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon and a contestant in the prestigious Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, has launched a crowd-funding campaign on the Indiegogo website.

The company, SpaceIL, said that the campaign is designed to not only raise funds for the lunar project, but also to engage as broad an audience as possible with its mission to the Moon.

SpaceIL says it is building the world’s smallest spacecraft, with the aim of showing that space exploration is no longer limited to global superpowers with vast space programs. Any group, small country or university can get involved and contribute to advancing scientific discovery, the company says.

It is seeking to raise $240,000, one dollar for each mile to the moon. The funds, which SpaceIL hopes will complete its current round of funding, will be put toward fuel costs – which total $500,000.

“We’re excited to harness the power of the Indiegogo platform to raise awareness and build involvement with SpaceIL," said CEO Eran Privman. "We have great momentum and a lot of inspiration to share and hope as many people as possible will come aboard and join our mission to the Moon,”

SpaceIL is an Israeli nonprofit founded at the end of 2010. It is funded by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Morris Kahn, the Schusterman Family Foundation, Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Space Agency, Bezeq, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute.

Until now, only one Israeli, Ilan Ramon, has flown in space. He died in the Columbia disaster in 2003. There have been several Jewish astronauts and cosmonauts, however, including Boris Volynov. Judith Resnik (who died in the Challenger disaster in 1986,) Jeffrey Hoffman, Ellen Baker, Marsha Ivins, Jerome Apt, David Wolf, Martin Fettman, John Grunsfeld, Scott Horowitz, Mark Polansky, Garrett Reisman and Gregory Chamitoff.