After the failure of the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet to land on the moon this week, SpaceIL President Morris Kahn announced Saturday the launch of the Beresheet 2 project, taking effect immediately: "We have started some thing and we have to finish it. We will put our flag on the moon. "
The small spaceship, the world's first privately financed lunar lander, crashed into the lunar surface on Thursday night as it attempted to land, apparently due to a technical incident that led to a halt. main engine mid-landing.
South African billionaire Kahn, a South African citizen, announced Sunday that work on Beresheet's successor would begin on Sunday.
"The answer we got was amazing. The amount of thanks and letters is incredible, "he said. "Over the weekend, I had time to reflect on what happened and the truth is incredible to see all the encouragement and support from people around the world.
"It gave me time to think and I thought it would be a shame to leave things like that. I have just announced a new project: Beresheet 2. We have started something and we have to finish it. We will put our flag on the moon. "
He added that "the Beresheet 2 project starts tomorrow … A mission team will meet tomorrow to begin work".
Following the announcement, Israel Aerospace Industries, a Beresheet partner, said it would be happy to participate in future SpaceIL projects.
Kahn provided much of the $ 100 million (NIS 370 million) required for the construction and launch of the spacecraft, an innovative approach representing a fraction of the cost of previous state-funded moon-landing efforts. .
The project was a joint venture between SpaceIL and Israeli Aerospace Industries Israel, funded almost entirely by private donations from well-known Jewish philanthropists, including Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Lynn Schusterman and others.
The founders of SpaceIL stated that one of the major goals of the project was to educate space and encourage children to engage in science.
"I'm ready to work for that and do everything necessary to move this project forward," said Kahn. "It's also a good lesson for young people. I said that if you fail, you have to get up and try again. This is an example that I have to give them. "
For Beresheet 2, Kahn said the hope was to engage the public to bear some of the costs, possibly through a crowdfunding campaign.
"We will receive funds from donors and the public," he said. "Everyone wants to participate. A rich person in the United States offered to pay a lot of money, but I think the funds should come from the public. This should be a project of the people. "
Following the Beresheet accident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to indicate that the government would support a follow-up initiative. Unidentified government sources told Channel 12 on Saturday that the government would support the project without specifying how much.
"We do not rely on government support," said Kahn. "They help, so much the better, but we rely on the public."
Ehud Hayun, space systems engineer at IAI, said, "I'm not overwhelmed, I'm disappointed, but I'm very proud of what we have accomplished. We had a lot of success on the way, until the forced landing. We knew that the mission was risky and that we took the risk of building it quickly and cheaply. But we tried.
SpaceIL co-founder Yariv Bash said it would take about two or three years to prepare another prototype ready for a moon landing.
Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries' space division, who helped build the spacecraft, said the engineers were still studying the problem behind the crash. They currently believe that one of the telemetry measurement units (altitude) failed, which caused a series of events that resulted in the main machine being cut about 10 kilometers from the moon's surface. Without the main engine, the spacecraft could not brake properly in time to make a soft landing, but will hit the moon on Thursday.
At the press conference, Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of SpaceIL, said: "We did not reach the Moon in one piece. That sucks. However, engineering and science are difficult. Sometimes it does not work the first time, sometimes not the second or third time. But it will work.
The former astronaut and second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, on Thursday expressed his condolences to Twitter, saying the project was "inspiring".
"Never lose hope – your hard work, teamwork and innovation are inspiring for everyone!" He wrote.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.