The Race to Space and the Israeli Team
Almost 50 years ago, Russia and the U.S. raced each other to be the first country to send a spaceship to space. In the last years, China and Russia are winning the race to space, but Israel isn’t too far behind. The tiny country that has 15 satellites circling the Earth has a good chance of winning the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
The competition began in 2007 and challenges 28 teams (from countries such as Chile, Canada, the United States, and more). The challenge is to build a private spacecraft that can land on the moon and move 500 meters in any direction. It also has to send back video and high definition (HD) pictures. The first team to achieve this will win $20 million. Second place winners will get $10 million in money and prizes. All teams have until December 31, 2017 to win the competition. At the moment, Moon Express (an American team) and SpaceIL (an Israeli team) are in the lead.
The competition hopes to inspire engineers and inventors from all over the world to make robots that can go to space without. The teams will use as little money as they can for the project, because they don’t get money from the country. Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, who helps run the Google Lunar X Prize says the prize is also “a great way for teams to come together in the next giant leap in space travel and discovery.”
But why send robots to the moon when there are many other planets to see? Google Lunar’s website says they chose the moon because it’s Earth’s closest neighbor and it is an important step in traveling to the rest of the universe.
The SpaceIL probe, which is a three-legged machine about the size of a dishwasher, has the newest technology. If Israel wins the competition, the whole world will immediately know them for their invention. Yonatan Weintraub, a member of SpaceIL, says the win would be good for all Israelis.
“Our goal is to create a good chance for Israel to get to the Moon so we can put the Israeli flag there. We see the benefit for how Israel looks to the rest of the world. To put it simply, this win would mean that Israel is an important player in the science world. It would encourage schools to strengthen their science programs.”
Getting to the moon safely costs a lot of money. To help cover the 136 million shekel cost of sending a robot to the moon, many people donated money to the team. many science and technology organizations in Israel also support SpaceIL.
“Only three countries have soft-landed a rover on the moon: the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China,” said SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman. “Now the idea of the small state of Israel being added to this list looks more possible than ever.”
Israeli engineers and scientists have wanted to travel to the moon for a long time. “What we are looking for is to really follow the dream that men have been dreaming about for hundreds of years. That is getting to far away stars or any place like the moon,” Privman added. SpaceIL was the first team to have their plan accepted by the Google Lunar XPRIZE. If they win, SpaceIL has promised to donate their winnings to Israelis who wish to study science and follow their dream.
Would you want to be part of the SpaceIL team?
Do you think that it’s important that Israel participates in this competition?
2013-03-31 – Canadian astronaut and Commander of Expedition 35 answers a question about how astronauts brush their teeth in space.