This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Israelis are looking to the stars once again, as Space Week begins Sunday, with exhibits, lectures, contests, demonstrations and more showing off Israel’s prowess in space tech. The event is perhaps more relevant this year than ever, according to Dr. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency (ISA), because this year the core tech that will bring Israel to the moon needs to be finished.
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2015 was set to be the “year of space” for Israel as well as for many other countries that have teams competing for a $20 million prize in the Google LunarX space race contest. The mission for the moon-bound spaceships: to take high-definition video and beam it back to earth, and explore the surface of the moon by moving, or sending out a vehicle, that will move 500 meters along the moon’s surface.
Thirty-three teams entered the contest when it was first announced in 2007; today, 18 remain, but only five, including Israel’s team, are thought by industry experts to be making significant progress on their projects.
The original end-of-2015 deadline has been pushed back to December 31, 2016, but the core technology for the Israeli craft being built by SpaceIL, the organization that intends to win the prize on Israel’s behalf, needs to be completed soon.
That makes Israel Space Week a very important event for Israelis, said Ben-Israel. “Israel sees space technology as an incentive to advancement and a key to a highly developed information economy which will attract high-quality professionals and skilled workers,” he said. “SpaceIL’s initiative is the first of what we expect will be many Israeli innovations in space exploration.”
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