Casino billionaire and Republican party kingmaker Sheldon Adelson and his wife have pledged $16.4 million to help fund the Israeli SpaceIL mission to the moon.
According to the Jewish Daily Forward, the $16.4 million makes up a substantial portion of the project’s estimated $37 million dollar budget.
“Sheldon and I are thrilled to be supporting the SpaceIL association in its effort to land the first Israel spacecraft on the moon,” Miriam Adelson told the Israeli news site on science, hayadan.org.il. “As a physician and an Israel-born scientist, I am particularly proud of the positive effect this will have on a generation of young Israelis and non-Israelis,” she said.
SpaceIL is part of the Google Lunar X competition which was launched in 2007. It is reportedly the only team funding its project through philanthropic donations rather than corporate sponsorship.
According to the SpaceIL website, their mission is to: “…. make a soft landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the moon, move 500 meters and transmit video, images, and data back to Earth by the end of 2015.”
SpaceIL co-founder, Yariv Bash, said that once the craft makes it to the lunar surface, their plan is to carry out a number of experiments including attempting to grow plants outside the earth.
[Space Lander On The Planet on Shutterstock]