A lifesize Lego structure of SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar spacecraft, created by Israeli artist Yuval Dvorin, will be unveiled by Morris Kahn, philanthropist and SpaceIL president, at the launch of the month-long Lego Space Park opening Thursday at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The structure is a replica of the SpaceIL lunar lander, launched into space earlier this year, and matches its size. Dvorin used 100,000 Lego bricks to make the structure, and weighs close to 400 pounds, according to The Jerusalem Post report.
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In an interview with Israeli national daily Yediot Ahronot, Dvorin said the cost of the bricks came to more than 500,000 shekels (over $141,000.)
The Lego Space Park exhibition, held in partnership with Lego, the Israel Aerospace Industry, and SpaceIL will open in Tel Aviv on Saturday, July 26 and will run through the summer. The exhibition features large size Lego models associated with the world of space and science. Children are also given the chance to build their own Lego structures.
Dvorin, who currently lives in Holland with his family, only had a short time to complete the structure, before it was flown to Israel. He received full drawings of the Beresheet spacecraft and was asked to sign confidentiality agreements by SpaceIL and the IAI, according to the report.
The Beresheet (Hebrew for “Genesis’) lunar lander attempted to make Israel the fourth country in the world to complete a controlled moon landing this year. The spacecraft was launched on February 22 on the back of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and orbited the Earth and the moon, traveling 6.5 million km before attempting a landing that ended in a crash on April 11.
Despite the crash, Beresheet still broke ground on lunar initiatives. It was a largely privately-funded moon mission, operating on a relatively modest budget (for a space mission) of approximately $100 million. Beresheet was also the smallest spacecraft ever built and traveled the largest distance to the moon.
The moon mission was first conceived in 2011 by Israeli engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damar, and Yonatan Winetraub to enter the Google Lunar X Prize competition, a global contest challenging international engineers to create and send the first private lander to the moon. The three founded the non-profit organization SpaceIL and partnered with IAI to design and build the spacecraft. While the March 31, 2018 deadline for the contest passed and the $20 million prize went unclaimed, SpaceIL decided to surge forward on its own journey to launch the lander.
After the crash, SpaceIL president Morris Khan, the project’s main backer, vowed to launch a second spacecraft but canceled the plan late last month to focus on “another, significant objective.” The details of that objective are not yet known.
The groundbreaking design and tech behind the Beresheet lunar lander will serve as the basis for future lunar missions launched by Texas aerospace company Firefly Aerospace, as the company is set to create a new lunar lander based on the spacecraft’s blueprints as part of a NASA program.
NASA says the program is “one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.”
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis says the Lego space-themed initiative was chosen to encourage children to dream of their own futures in space and science.