Canadian mogul Adams gives $5 million to Israel moon bid project
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Canadian mogul Adams gives $5 million to Israel moon bid project

Sylvan Adams, who helped bring this year the Giro d’Italia cycling race to Israel, joins Israel’s effort to launch and land its first spacecraft on moon

Canadian real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, right, with Morris Kahn, at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s MBT Space facility in Yehud where SpaceIL's spacecraft to the moon is being assembled (Eliran Avital)
Canadian real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, right, with Morris Kahn, at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s MBT Space facility in Yehud where SpaceIL's spacecraft to the moon is being assembled (Eliran Avital)

Canadian real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, who helped bring the prestigious Giro d’Italia Big Start cycling race to Israel earlier this year, has joined a project to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon and has donated $5 million to SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that is behind the initiative.

Adams announced his donation after a tour last week of the Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) MBT Space facility in Yehud, where the spacecraft is being assembled. The tour was attended by the SpaceIL president Morris Kahn, Ido Anteby, the CEO of SpaceIL, and other senior officials from Israel Aerospace Industries.

“I believe that sending the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon will inspire Israeli school children to take up STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] studies and think about space exploration, and especially to believe that everything is possible,” Adams said at the event.

The Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to launch for the moon in early 2019, and if all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

Adams joins a group of donors who have contributed to the project, including Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Sammy Sagol, Lynn Schusterman, and Steven Grand.

Kahn, a businessman and philanthropist, has donated NIS 100 million (some $27 million) to the project, and has taken it upon himself to see the project through.

Adams “joins the amazing group of donors with a common vision — to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon,” Kahn said in the statement. “We are in the final stretch, and I believe that his joining will help us raise the remaining money required to complete our ambitious mission.”

The launch of the vessel was scheduled for December this year, but has been pushed back to early 2019.

“We are in the final stretch before the launch and preparations are proceeding at full power,” said Ido Anteby, the CEO of SpaceIL. “The teams of SpaceIL and IAI are making great progress in a series of tests and trials being carried out at IAI’s space facility. At the same time, we are stepping up activities to promote scientific and technological education in the State of Israel, ahead of the launch.”

Giro Big Start Israel organizer Sylvan Adams at the 19th Maccabiah Games (Courtesy Maccabiah)

The project which began seven years ago, as part of a Google technology contest to land a small probe on the moon, is being conducted together with IAI. Although the Google prize expired in March without a winner, Israel’s team pledged to push forward.
Additional partners in the project include private sector firms, government companies and academia, including the Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq The Israeli Telecommunication Corp. Ltd.

SpaceIL is continuing its efforts to raise the funds necessary to complete this mission, the company said in a statement.

The aim of the project is also to set in motion an “Apollo effect” in Israel: encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose to study STEM subjects, to change their perception of these subjects, generate a sense of empowerment, and to allow them to dream big even if their country is small, the statement said.

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