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Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have give a big financial boost to the Israeli moon project for a launch to the moon.

The Sheldon Adelson Family Foundation has contributed $16.4 million to the Israel Lunar Project to build the world smallest spacecraft that SpaceIL hopes to land on the moon.

The donation is nearly half of the project’s budget, estimated at $36 million.

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SpaceIL is an Israeli non-profit founded at the end of 2010 by three young engineers with the dream of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. They entered the Google Lunar X Prize (GLPX) competition, and SpaceIL now has a full-time staff of 20 people, more than 250 volunteers and a network of hundreds of renowned academics, business leaders, and industry experts.

SpaceIL hopes its technological breakthroughs spur a new wave of commercial space-related industries in Israel.

“Sheldon and I are very excited to be supporting SpaceIL in an effort to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. As an Israeli-born physician and scientist, I am especially proud of the positive impact the pursuit of this goal will have on the next generation of young Israelis, and frankly all young people, as it serves an important example of the role science and technology continue to play in our everyday lives and across the world,” said Dr. Miriam Adelson.

Yanki Margalit, Chairman of SpaceIL Public Board, remarked that, “We will be able to significantly expand our impact and create the first blue and white moment of the 21st century.”

SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman added, “SpaceIL intends to expand its educational program and invest the needed resources in building the spacecraft. We only get one chance to succeed, so we intend to do all we can to increase our odds.”

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