President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday received the first Israeli spacecraft, SpaceIL’s ‘Bereishit’ (Genesis) ahead of its launch to the moon. President of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, presented the initiative to the State of Israel as a national project before the historic launch.
Eight years of intensive work by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries will come to fruition with the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, this Thursday.
The spacecraft will carry a time capsule, a copy of which was presented to the president. The time capsule has a huge database saved on special disks that can be removed from the spacecraft. There are hundreds of digital files, including the Bible and details about SpaceIL, the building of the spacecraft, Israeli national symbols, cultural items and materials collected by the public over the years.
The time capsule will remain on the moon after the mission is completed.
“This is an historic moment. In a few days, the first Israeli spacecraft will be sent to the moon. ‘Bereishit’ will make history!” the president said.
He added, “When I was a child, we used to write fortunes on bubble gum wrappers – ‘by the time you’re 21, you’ll go to the moon.’ Then, it seemed fantastical, impossible. Until now, only great powers have landed on the moon – the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. But if everything goes according to plan, the State of Israel – our young and small country – will be the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon.”
The president added, “I hope that in a few months we will be able to say ‘We are on the moon, and we are staying on the moon.’ Let me thank you for the decision to display a model of ‘Bereishit’ here at the Presidential Residence, and for transferring the project from private hands to the state. This project is of the greatest national importance. It is a national project! … This is Zionism at its finest.”
Morris Kahn thanked the president, saying “Mr. President, it is a tremendous pleasure for me to present this wonderful project to the State of Israel. It is a tremendous achievement and I am proud to be part of it, and that the Israeli flag will soon fly on the moon. I also want to present you with a copy of the time capsule that will be sent to the moon on the spacecraft. It includes pictures sent by Israelis from all around the country, a miniature Bible and Israeli songs. Thank you for your support.”
Nimrod Sheffer, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries said: “IAI put Israel on the map many years ago when we joined the small club of developed nations that send satellites to space. As the Israeli home of space exploration, it was only natural that we would join SpaceIL’s wonderful and visionary project. The cooperation between us is a shining example of the extraordinary accomplishments we can achieve in the State of Israel.”