$1 million prize awaits Israeli team if moon landing works

XPrize foundation announces potential award for Beresheet ahead of scheduled April 11 landing, says it’s inspired by SpaceIL’s perseverance

Beresheet on display before its launch, December 17, 2018. (Ariel Schalit/AP)
Beresheet on display before its launch, December 17, 2018. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

The Israeli team aiming to land a spacecraft on the moon in two weeks can now expect more than glory if it works. How about a cool $1 million?

The XPrize Foundation announced Thursday it’s offering the hefty prize for a successful lunar landing.

Israel’s privately financed spacecraft Beresheet — Hebrew for “Genesis” — launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida last month. It’s on track to land on the moon April 11, which would make Israel only the fourth country to successfully pull off a lunar landing.

SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit behind Beresheet, made the final cut in the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize competition, which ended last year without a winner. The new award was inspired by SpaceIL’s perseverance.

On Sunday, engineers with SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries released a number of photos from Beresheet’s camera, including a selfie with the Earth from 265,000 kilometers (165,000 miles) above the planet’s surface and a video of the sunrise in space.

Photo taken by the Beresheet spacecraft in which an Israeli flag can be seen on a plaque with the inscription, ‘Am Yisrael Chai,’ or ‘The Jewish People Lives,’ and in English, ‘Small country, big dreams,’ taken 37,600 kilometers from Earth. (Courtesy SpaceIL/IAI)

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