A few months ago, I introduced you all to USC TAMID, an Israeli consulting group here on campus (See my previous blog: USC TAMID: A Consulting Organization). At the time, I had just started consulting for SpaceIL, a non-profit Israeli space company working to put a rover on the moon to win the $20 million Google Lunar X-prize. As I began gathering data on SpaceIL and its competitors, I had no inkling of SpaceIL’s potential, and I am now blown away by SpaceIL’s ability to inspire people, both Israelis non-Israelis.
First, an update on the company’s progress. According to USC TAMID research, SpaceIL is within the top three teams competing for the Google Lunar X-prize, joining Astrobotic (a Pittsburgh-based company out of Carnegie Mellon University) and Moon Express (a San Francisco-based company) as the cream of the crop. Up until the end of fall semester, I was busy assessing the technical capabilities of these three squads, and they all seem to be about even technologically. All three teams are going to purchase a launch vehicle from a larger launch provider, and, with minor differences, all three have developed lunar lander/rover systems capable of making the three day journey from outer Earth orbit to the surface of the moon. Similar to Astrobotic and Moon Express, SpaceIL plans to put their rover on the moon by the end of 2015. But the most amazing part is that SpaceIL’s top priority is not even winning the mission.
To match SpaceIL’s top priority, my priorities as a consultant have changed as well. I am no longer a technical consultant but rather a marketing consultant. This semester, I will be working to raise money for SpaceIL’s mission via crowdfunding and large donations from donors in Southern California. As the Southern California face of SpaceIL, I have represented SpaceIL at several events in Los Angeles by speaking about the company with potential donors, both large and small. This past Saturday, I attended a SpaceIL promotional event in the hanger of the Endeavor Space Shuttle at the California Science Center and met several important members of B’Nai Akiva, a prominent Jewish organization in Southern California. SpaceIL has several more millions to raise before putting a rover on the moon, and I will be doing everything I can to help make those millions.
As part of the fundraising effort, I brought SpaceIL’s CEO, Yariv Bash, to USC to speak to students at USC Hillel. Whether Jewish or non-Jewish, engineering or non-engineering, approximately 75 students filled the room, and I was reminded of SpaceIL’s original purpose. SpaceIL hopes to inspire the Israeli people, to create an excitement for math, science, and engineering typical to the Apollo effect felt by Americans during the 1960s. If SpaceIL puts a rover on the moon, SpaceIL would succeed in making the small nation of Israel, not even 100 years old, the fourth country ever to put a rover or lander on the moon. SpaceIL is more than just an engineering company; SpaceIL is an item of national pride, a pride that I also share in. So, when SpaceIL does land a rover on the moon, my dream is to join the Israeli people in celebrating the successful mission on the streets of Tel Aviv, as I will have helped put Israel on the moon.