Israel, The Third Nation on the Moon?
Posted by Carol Hardick under Innovation
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Israel to be the next to land on the moon? Wow. I hope so!
There is something wonderfully poetic that a tiny “start-up nation,” and within 65 years, might just be the nation to land a spacecraft on the moon and win Google’s Lunar X Prize. And then turn around and sink that prize money into education? Wow! I sure agree with them, that it has to be more than just studying science, engineering and math; critical and creative thinking when combined are a powerful source of innovation. It will be exactly that kind of expansive thinking that gets the spacecraft to the moon. The ages of these three young men? 30, 28 and 24.
Haaretz has a full article but my favorite quote is “Will they make it? Will they realize their ambition? Winetraub says Yes. He seems confident that come the year 2012, if you have a really sharp telescope, you’ll be able to see that Israeli flag on the moon.”
Mar. 30 2011 – 6:01 am
By DANIEL FREEDMAN
If all goes according to plan, by December 2012 a team of three young Israeli scientists will have landed a tiny spacecraft on the moon, explored the lunar surface, and transmitted live video back to earth, thereby scooping up a $20 million prize (the Google Lunar X Prize), revolutionizing space exploration, and making the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon. And they’re doing it in their spare time.
The three engineers – Yariv Bash (electronics and computers), Kfir Damari (communication systems), and Yonatan Winetraub (satellite systems) all have high-level day jobs in the Israeli science and technology world, and also both teach and study. They all had heard of the Google Lunar X Prize independently, before being introduced by mutual friends who, as Yonatan puts it “thought we were all crazy enough to do it, so we should meet each other.”
By the end of November 2010 they had sketched together a novel plan to win the prize and submitted it to organizers. Only on December 21 (10 days before the December 31 deadline) did they set about raising the $50,000 entry fee. “Like good Israelis we left it to the last minute,” Yonatan laughs.
Since then they’ve recruited around 50 volunteers from across the Israeli science and technology community and have gained support from academic institutions, including the prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science (founded in 1933 by Chaim Weizmann, himself a successful chemist who went on to become Israel’s first president). They’re operating as a non-profit (“we’re looking for stakeholders,” says Project Coordinator Ronna Rubinstein), and any winnings will be invested in promoting science among Israeli youth.