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SpaceIL secures funds to attempt another lunar landing

People watch the live broadcast in Netanya, on April 11, 2019, of the SpaceIL Beresheet lunar landing attempt. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
People watch the live broadcast in Netanya, on April 11, 2019, of the SpaceIL Beresheet lunar landing attempt. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

SpaceIL, the nonprofit Israeli initiative whose spacecraft crashed on the moon two years ago, says that it has secured $70 million in funding to make a second attempt at a lunar landing.

SpaceIL says the new pledges mean that it has raised almost all of the $100 million it estimates is needed for the mission to meet its 2024 launch target.

SpaceIL says the funding will come from South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, who bankrolled much of the first mission, French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, and South African philanthropist Martin Moshal, co-founder of venture capital firm, Entree Capital.

The first “Beresheet,” or “Genesis” spacecraft, built by SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, crashed into the moon moments before touchdown in April 2019, falling short in its attempt to become the first privately funded lunar landing.

According to the Davidson Institute, a branch of the Weizmann Institute of Science research university in Israel, the spacecraft suffered a string of technical malfunctions. That included damage to the star trackers, a type of navigation tool, failure of computer systems, and engine failure.

The new mission, to be called Beresheet 2, was first announced in late 2020, and plans to set new global space records through a double landing on the moon and the installment of the lightest ever moon landers, each weighing 60 kg (132 pounds) without fuel.

It will be composed of three spacecraft — an orbiter and two landers — with the mission hoping to follow China in becoming only the second to successfully land on the far side of the moon.

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