The end of the Google Lunar Xprize was not the end of the private race to the moon. Besides the five former participants, Moon Express, Team Indus, Team Hakuto, SpaceIl, and Synergy Moon, at least two other teams not in the competition, Astrobotic and Part-Time Scientists, are still planning private moon shots. Indeed, an effort is underway to revive the competition, to be called merely the Lunar XPrize. The new race to the moon will not include a cash prize but is looking for a sponsor.

The five plus seven private groups are in various stages in their efforts to land on the moon.

One of the teams, SpaceIl, the Israeli group, has expressed confidence that it will land on the moon by the fourth quarter of 2018.

The Star of David on the moon

With new management, a launch contract on a SpaceX Falcon 9, and the possibility of Israeli government funding, SpaceIl seems to be on track to meet its goal of shooting for the moon in 2018. The purpose of the Israeli group is to showcase their country’s growing technological strength in the most conspicuous way possible.

Just as the Apollo Moon Landing established the United States as the undisputed world leader in science and technology, SpaceIl hopes that their moon landing will do Israel a similar service. The power of a landing on the moon to inspire Israel’s youth to pursue an education in the STEM fields is also not neglected.

The group has already developed interactive educational websites for that purpose.

SpaceIl has chosen Mare Serenitatis, located on the moon’s northern hemisphere. The region is the location of a strong magnetic field and the Israeli lunar lander will use a magnetometer to measure this during and after the landing,

Israel as a space exploration power

Israel’s moonshot is taking place just as the United States is preparing for a return of astronauts to the lunar surface.

NASA, unlike with the misbegotten “Journey to Mars,” is in the hunt for international partners. The usual suspects of Europe, Japan, and Canada are the most mentioned. A successful Israeli moon landing would place the Jewish State at the forefront of countries that should be considered for an international push to the moon.

Nothing makes a country more attractive as a space exploration partner more than actual accomplishments.

If Israel becomes the fourth country to land on the moon (or the fifth if the Indian government lands Chandrayaan-2 before it), then common sense suggests that it should be asked to join. Once thought of as a one-off effort for the sake of prestige, this could become a new program for a country born just 70 years ago in fire and blood.