When Google announced in the summer of 2007 that it was
holding an X-Prize competition to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon,
private groups across the world scrambled to raise the $50,000 entry fee.
Right before the
cutoff date at the end of 2010, three young Israeli engineers — Yariv Bash,
Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub — decided to join the other 33 groups that
had already signed up.
Their vision was not only technological; it involved a sense
of national pride, as well. They felt that Israelis, famous for innovation and
ingenuity, could not pass up the opportunity to take part in such an endeavor.
Hence, SpaceIL (“IL” for Israel) was chosen as the
name not only for this specific project, but for the nonprofit organization
they established for a broader educational goal of encouraging young Israelis
to take an interest in science and technology.
Israel’s aerospace industry
has a distinct advantage because of its innovation in micro- and
nano-satellites. SpaceIL is now applying this technology to build the
“smallest, smartest spacecraft ever to have landed on the moon.”