Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft is on the way to the moon and may land on it by April. If all goes according to plan, the team behind it may also be on the way to receiving $1 million from the X Prize Foundation.

'Moonshot Award'

On March 28, the X Prize Foundation announced that it is offering a $1 million Moonshot Award to the X Prize team that demonstrates a moonshot achievement outside of the parameters of an X Prize competition. The foundation states that the award is inspired by Israel’s SpaceIL, which is the first privately funded mission to the moon. Before SpaceIL, the governments of China, the United States, and the Soviet Union were the only ones to have landed missions on the moon.

So far, SpaceIL’s Beresheet spacecraft is already on the way to the moon and is expected to land by April 11 of this year. Should things go according to plan, the team behind Beresheet will receive the inaugural award as well as the $1 million prize.

“SpaceIL’s mission represents the democratization of space exploration. We are optimistic about seeing this first domino fall, setting off a chain reaction of increasingly affordable and repeatable commercial missions to the Moon and beyond,” said X Prize founder and chairman, Peter H. Diamandis.

X Prize is also considering future Moonshot Awards to recognize literal and figurative moonshots, even in other domains.

Unclaimed Google Lunar X Prize

Originally, SpaceIL was one of the five finalists competing at the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, which challenged teams from all over the world to build and launch lunar landers using mostly private funding. The competition’s deadline got pushed several times between 2012 to 2018, but unfortunately, it ended last year without any of the teams claiming the prize.

Even so, many of the teams continued working on their projects, and SpaceIL turned up to be the first to launch last Feb. 21. This time, should the team receive the Moonshot Award, the prize is no longer funded by the original competition they entered but by X Prize alone in celebration of the moonshot feat.

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