Blast Off of the First Private Spacecraft to the Moon!

The Ilan Ramon Scholarship Project Congratulates the Space Israel Moon Team!

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ilan Ramon Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism & Space is proud to congratulate the SpaceIL team on the blast off of the first private spacecraft to the Moon.  The Beresheet, Hebrew for beginning or genesis, was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the NASA launch facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  When the spacecraft lands approximately sixty days from today, Israel will be the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon.

Yonatan Winetraub, a young engineer, envisioned an Israeli team entering the Google Lunar XPrize (GLXP) Competition, and landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon while he was attending the International Space University Space Studies Program held at the NASA Ames Center in Mountain View, California in 2009. Fellow engineers Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari shared this vision and the three co-founded SpaceIL, an Israeli non-profit, in 2011 to compete for the XPrize but also to create an "Apollo Effect” and to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to think differently about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The project, funded primarily by private donors including Morris Kahn and Sheldon Adelson, is carrying scientific payloads including the Lunar Magnetometer (LMAG) to study the magnetic phenomenon whose secrets are kept in the moon crystal rocks.  The lander will also be carrying a time capsule including digital files with dictionaries in 27 languages and encyclopedias, an indication of knowledge accumulated by all humanity as well as a Bible, the Israeli flag, a Holocaust survivor’s memories, childrens’ drawings of space, and other items from art, science, literature and technology.

Yonatan attended the International Space University as an Ilan Ramon Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism & Space Scholar. The Scholarship Project was established to honor the memory of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died while courageously exploring the final frontier of space.The purpose is to attract talented young Israeli students with backgrounds in technology, science, medicine and other space activities to allow them to continue their pursuit of knowledge with the world’s leading space professionals at the prestigious International Space University. Yonatan is currently a PhD Candidate, Biophysics at Stanford and was one of three Ilan Ramon Scholars who was also selected by Forbes magazine as top 30 under 30 in Israel.

Yonatan Winetraub said, “Today’s launch is the culmination of a decade of effort that globally nearly everyone argued was an impossible mission. I am blown away by the widespread support of thousands of people that help turn this dream into a reality. This inspiration was largely made possible by the Ilan Ramon Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism and Space at the International Space University and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Co-founder of the Scholarship Project, Michael Potter remarked, “Ilan Ramon inspired an entire nation, and it is only fitting that his scholarship has sparked not only such an historic achievement for Israel, but has energized the next generation to use their talents to reach the stars.”

Only a few weeks ago Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has teamed with leading German space company OHB System to assist the European Space Agency (ESA) missions to reach the moon. Under the teaming agreement, signed during the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Tel Aviv, IAI will provide a lunar lander based on the “Beresheet” spacecraft, which is scheduled to land on the moon fifty years after the 1st Apollo landing.

About The Ilan Ramon Scholarship Project for Innovation, Entrepreneurism & Space

The Scholarship Project provides scholarship funding for talented Israeli post-graduate students to attend the Summer Space Studies Program at the International Space University (ISU). Over 55 Ilan Ramon Scholarships have been awarded over the past decade, allowing these scholars to join the global space community and ecosystem.

Members of the Board of Advisors include Astronauts Dr. Garrett Reisman, of USC, and Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, a professor at both MIT and International Space University. and

About the International Space University

The International Space University, founded in 1987 in Massachusetts, US and now headquartered in Strasbourg, France, is the world’s premier international space education institution. It is supported by major space agencies and aerospace organizations from around the world. ISU programs are delivered by over 100 ISU faculty members in concert with invited industry and agency experts from institutions around the world. Since its founding 30 years ago, more than 4,600 students from over 100 countries graduated from ISU.

About SpaceIL

SpaceIL, a non-profit organization, is committed to continue in its mission to land on the Moon by the first quarter of 2019 and to the advancement of science and technology education in Israel. SpaceIL vision is to create an "Apollo Effect” to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to think differently about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Michael Potter

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at




SpaceIL Founders