Sylvan Adams, the Canadian-Israeli billionaire businessman credited with bringing the Giro d'Italia "Big Start" to Israel earlier this year, has identified his next ambitious project - a mission to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, The Jerusalem Post reports.
SpaceIL announced Monday that Adams would be joining their groundbreaking project and donating $5 million to the effort. The non-profit organization's spacecraft is due to be launched in early 2019 and reach the moon two months later, making Israel only the fourth country to soft-land on the lunar surface.
"This contribution to strengthening the Israeli space program, and encouraging education for excellence and innovation among the younger generation in Israel, is the best gift I could have asked for," said Adams, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday, as he announced his contribution at the Israel Aerospaces Industries (IAI) MBT Space Division in Yehud where the spacecraft is being assembled.
"I believe that sending the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon will inspire Israeli school children to take up STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] studies and think about space exploration, and especially to believe that everything is possible," Adams said.
SpaceIL was among the five finalists in Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. Despite Google cancelling the $30 million cash prize in January, SpaceIL reiterated its campaign mission after raising critical funds to continue its activity.
Adams joins a group of donors who have contributed to the lunar project, including Amdocs founder Morris Kahn, Sam Sagol, Steven Grand, the Adelson Family Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation.
"I want to thank Sylvan Adams for his generous contribution to our effort," said Kahn, the president of SpaceIL, who has contributed NIS 100 million ($30m.) to the project.
"He joins the amazing group of donors with a common vision - to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. We are in the final stretch, and I believe that his joining will help us raise the remaining money to complete our ambitious mission," Kahn said.
A group of private, governmental and academic partners have joined SpaceIL's project since its inception, including IAI, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and Bezeq.
In October, NASA signed an agreement with the Ministry of Science and Technology to contribute specialist space technology to SpaceIL's project.
"We are in the final stretch before the launch, and preparations are at full power. The teams of SpaceIL and IAI are making great progress in a series of tests and trials being carried out at IAI's space facility," said Dr. Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL.
"At the same time, we are stepping up activities to promote scientific and technological education in the State of Israel ahead of the launch. We thank Mr. Sylvan Adams for his contribution."