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On 9 December President Rueven Rivlin officially inaugurated the BERESHEET 2 programme, aimed at launching a second Israeli spacecraft to the Moon. Also participating in the event were the Minister of Science and Technology, Izhar Shay; the CEO of NPO SpaceI, Shimon Sarid; the CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Boaz Levy; the Director General of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Shai-Lee Spigelman; and the founders of SpaceI, Kfir Damari and Yariv Bash. In addition, dozens of students took part, alongside the NPO’s volunteers, who staff six space centres across Israel.

As BERESHEET 1 ended, SpaceIL decided to continue on with the ‘Beresheet effect’ and begin work on the follow-on project. BERESHEET 2 has been launched after a thorough investigation and analysis – it will consist partially of a spacecraft comprising three space-going components – an orbiter and two landers – which will be launched to the moon.

The landers are expected to land at two different sites, in order to conduct different scientific experiments. The orbiter will circle the moon for several years and conduct scientific experiments and educational activities aimed at youth in Israel and around the world.

The project is led by the Israel Space Agency (ISA - part of the Ministry of Science and Technology) and IAI. The ISA views the project as an extraordinary opportunity to significantly advance Israel’s space industry and the study of space, to expand international collaborations and to highlights science and space to Israeli youth. It will lead the international collaborative aspects of the project, establishing the necessary ties with the various space agencies. Discussions are already being held with government representatives from a number of countries that have expressed interest in being part of and supporting the project. IAI will lead the development, planning and system engineering efforts, including all the system integrations within the spacecraft. These activities will incorporate all the lessons learned from the development of BERESHEET 1. Launch of the 630kg spacecraft is currently scheduled for the first half of 2024.

BERESHEET 2 is expected to be a multi-national mission led by Israel and has a project budget of approx. $100 million, up to half of which will come from the international collaborative agreements to be established by the ISA. School and university students from the participating countries will gain access to deep space and will be able to study information developed by the orbiter. Leadership of such an international mission will position Israel as a leader in the global civilian space industry, will help realize space potential in Israel and will serve as an engine for significant economic growth.

On reaching the Moon, the BERESHEET 2 spacecraft will separate into its three component spacecraft. (Image via IAI)

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