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Will Israeli Flag be the Third on Moon?

SpaceIl team in Google's $30M lunar contest aims to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon, transmit images back to earth.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/11/2011, 11:54 AM

An Israeli nonprofit team of young scientists is participating in the competition for the Google Lunar X Prize – a $30 million contest for landing an unmanned vehicle on the moon and transmitting still images and video back to earth.

The team wants the Israeli flag to be the third national flag to land on the moon – after the USSR and the USA (Soviet probes painted with the country's flag landed on the moon's surface before the US sent its astronauts to plant the American flag there).

The first team to land a vehicle on the moon, drive it a distance of 500 meters and transmit the images back to earth will win $20 million. If it carries out certain additional assignments, it could receive another $5 million. 

The SpaceIl team founded by Yariv Bash, Kfir Dimri and Yehonatan Weintraub is the only Israeli team in the competition. It faces about 20 teams from other countries.

Among the people supporting the team is Prof. Yitzchak Ben Yisrael, Chairman of the Israel Space Agency. Ben Yisrael has said that the SpaceIl initiative is a harbinger of a revolution that will take place in the field of space exploration in Israel following the approval of the space program by the government lately."

SpaceIl has succeeded in enlisting cooperation of numerous commercial firms and institutes of higher learning in Israel. Hundreds of professional have also volunteered to assist it.

Weintraub explained that "Israel has a relative advantage in the development of small satellites and additional advanced technologies. We intend to use this relative advantage to implement a small, agile solution that will take us to the moon and beyond."