SpaceIL is poised to make history by landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon, and could win a $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE if it’s the first team to accomplish the mission. You can be part of the excitement.
ISRAEL21c readers from any country are invited to a unique Google Hangout with SpaceIL’s Adam Green, Kfir Damari and Daniel Saat on Wednesday, April 9, at noon Eastern Daylight Time (9am Pacific time, 7pm Israel time) in cooperation with the iCenter, SpaceIL’s North American partner.
“Israel is the smallest country participating,” notes Amy Friedkin, president of ISRAEL21c. “It is very exciting to be sending the Israeli flag to the Moon, on a spacecraft that may be the smallest ever to land on the Moon.”
In the first half of the hangout, ISRAEL21c Associate Editor Viva Sarah Press will interview the SpaceIL visionaries. In the second half, they’ll answer questions submitted in advance through ISRAEL21c’s Facebook page, or posted in the livechat on YouTube.
Friedkin explains that ISRAEL21c received a grant to do a live-streamed project. “We chose SpaceIL because it seemed like a great topic for a live-stream, especially for the 10 participating schools because of Space IL’s educational mission.”
The team has said from the start that if it wins the prize, the money will be donated toward STEM education in Israel. “They are trying to create an ‘Apollo effect’ – a real interest in space among Israeli youth,” Friedkin says.
“Space exploration could be the next big area of Israeli dominance. For the student population and the public at large, our SpaceIL Google Hangout helps open up the lens on Israel so they can see it more as it really is.”
Nathan Miller, ISRAEL21c’s social media director, says the Hangout represents a new venue for reader interaction with the stories we report on.
“This is part of our visual engagement process to expand the ways in which ISRAEL21c hears readers and responds to them,” says Miller. “We’ve increased our activity on Facebook and launched a reader photo contest and a Digital Ambassadors project to that end, and this is another part of that process.”
In order to win the $30 million XPRIZE, a privately funded company must land its craft safely on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters above, below, or on the lunar surface, and send back two “Mooncasts” to Earth by December 31, 2015. Teams may also compete for bonus prizes for exploring lunar artifacts or surviving the lunar night. Some 33 teams are vying for the honors.
SpaceIL is applying Israel’s pioneering innovations in micro- and nano-satellite technology to build a singularly small, smart spacecraft.
“We have readers signed up for the Hangout from all over the world, and we are expecting more to watch it on YouTube afterward,” says Miller. “We’ve seen from the overall interest in this live-stream that SpaceIL’s leaders have a very compelling story to tell. People connect to their message of science and empowering people through the amazing thing they are doing, harnessing all the creativity of Israelis.”
He predicts that if this first live-stream goes well, ISRAEL21c will plan additional Google Hangouts “so we can let people have a conversation with the people behind our stories.”