The founders of the SpaceIL announced Wednesday that work has begun on "Beresheet 2," a moon lander that will attempt to be the first spacecraft built by the private sector to safely land on the moon, after its antecedent failed to last year.
SpaceIL said their intention to launch the spacecraft to the moon during the first half of 2024. When it nears the moon, the craft will separate into an orbiter – designed to orbit the moon for several years – and two landers. The landers will each land in a different site and will carry out various scientific experiments.
The project, launched in cooperation with the Science Ministry and the Israel Aerospace Industries, was unveiled at the official residence of President Reuven Rivlin.
Rivlin hailed the "golden age of Israeli space exploration," stressing the importance of science, medicine and research in a time of a pandemic. "We realized how much more we have to learn, not only on distant planets and huge galaxies, but here on our little Earth," he said.
The project includes the construction of three different spacecraft: An orbiter and two landers. Half of the mission's costs – estimated at some $100 million – will be funded by international cooperation agreements, while the other half will be covered by donations and sponsorships.
Last year, After entering orbit, the original Beresheet spacecraft lost its main engine and went into an uncontrolled descent before it crashed.
The Israeli spacecraft had to tackle one of the biggest challenges of its lunar journey – the landing maneuver, the last stage of which was controlled solely by the spacecraft’s computer.