Jews plan to land a spacecraft on the moon.
Sounds like an Ephraim Kishon satire, a Mel Brooks screenplay or perhaps a Sholem Aleichem short story that could have been titled – “Yidden Shikn a Kleyn Shifl Tsu di Levona”.
But this is no satire and, as time will tell, no fiction. This is the very serious goal of SpaceIL (pronounced Space-ai-el) — an Israeli NPO/NGO (non-profit/non-government organization), and one of a select group of entrants from around the globe in the Google XPrize competition to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon.
During the first week of October 2015, Israel’s President Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin hosted a special press conference in which SpaceIL announced the signing of a Launch Services contract for its mission to land an Israeli unmanned spacecraft on the moon.
As a SpaceIL consultant and part of the small team leading the compilation and negotiation of this LSA (Launch Services Agreement), I am proud to see this milestone materialize.
When I was asked to join the SpaceIL team as a consultant, my first response was “ … it’s true that I hold a degree in Aerospace Engineering, but I’ve never actually launched anything to the moon.” The reply I received was “that’s OK, neither have we…”. So I agreed on the spot. I was immediately taken by the notion of a relatively small group of pioneering Israeli professionals joining forces to plan, design, build, launch and ultimately land an Israeli Lunar Module on the moon’s surface.
I view the SpaceIL program as a heartening example of Israeli leadership and entrepreneurship in the best sense. A nonprofit startup driven by the romance and technological challenge of a Lunar Mission and rewarded with a contemporary version of the Apollo effect of the late ’60s in the USA. This is a unique Israeli program intended to challenge Israeli engineering prowess, to inspire a young generation, to spark interest in the sciences and to bolster national pride. A unique Jewish peoplehood venture, mostly privately financed, drawing gracious philanthropic funding (crucial to the program) from Israel and abroad. I am happy to have the opportunity to assist in this exceptional leadership effort.
With a launch scheduled sometime towards the end of 2017, there’s still a long and steep path to climb and challenges to overcome to make this extremely complex and “far-reaching” program come to fruition. SpaceIL personnel and consultants will have to work hard with their “feet on the ground” before the SpaceIL craft can land gently with its “struts on the moon.”
As one inspiring Jewish leader coined: אם תרצו אין זו אגדה (if you will it, it is no dream).
Isaac (“Tsachi”) Mushkin, a Wexner Israel Fellowship alum (Class 14) is a co-founder and the CEO of SenStation Technologies Ltd. – a Hi-Tech startup company that develops state-of-the-art Passive Radar systems and solutions. Prior to embarking on his second career in Hi-Tech in 2008, Tsachi completed a distinguished 30-year career in Israel’s National Security establishment, serving in a variety of unique command positions. Tsachi holds a BSc in Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering from the Technion Technological Institute, Haifa and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is also the founder and drummer of the Wexner Israel Fellowship Alumni band. Tsachi can be reached at email@example.com.