Studying earth from the moon could help humanity better understand climate change, Israeli engineers in Google Lunar X competition say. (From left, SPACE IL’s Yonatan Weintraub and Kfir Damari with Lori Garver, deputy administrator at NASA).
As we learned recently from Rola’s post on Virgin’s galactic space travel for tourism, green research fields can be opened by space research. Israelis I interviewed about their new quest to land on the moon, say the same thing. That once the idea of space travel, whether it’s people or lab equipment, gets less prohibitively expensive, new “green” areas of research can be opened – ones that may contribute to long-term sustainable energy, for example. world. And the education [aspect] is important here, too. When [former US President John F.] Kennedy made his speech about the moon landing, he ignited the imagination of an entire generation. We want to do the same, to get kids to pursue careers in technology and science,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
Their robot will be about the size of a soda bottle and is expected to combine the best of Israeli technology from billion-dollar companies with cutting-edge research in academia. Their mission, if completed, could put Israel on the map as the third country to soft-land on the Moon.
Working under the non-profit moniker SPACE IL, the founders of this Israeli lunar project include CEO Yariv Bash, a computer and electronics engineer; COO Kfir Damari, a communications engineer; and Weintraub, a master’s student and graduate of NASA’s International Space University.
Enrolled in a global contest to reinvigorate space research, the Google Lunar X Prize (www.googlelunarxprize.org), the Israeli team aims to be the first on the Moon. However, the mission is also a social one: The men have pledged to donate all potential prize winnings — $30 million — to Israeli students as a way of encouraging them to study science. This allocation of money could very well advance the development of clean technology and more efficient modes of communication technologies, for instance.
Competing against 28 other teams from countries around the world including the United States, Canada and Chile, SPACE IL plans to land its lunar robot by the end of 2012. The robot will be expected to complete a 500-meter moonwalk and take various high-quality images and videos to be beamed back to Planet Earth.
Israel, as far as we know, is the only team from the Middle East region in the competition.