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The Cross of Bethlehem II

Israel cheats all the way to the Moon

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?Matthew 16:26



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On February 11, 2013, SpaceIL finally exposed its plan to land an Israeli vehicle on the moon. This came after the Israeli enterprise announced on January 2011 that it will compete for Google's Lunar X Prize, an X Prize Foundation space competition sponsored by Google. Announced on September 2007, it called for privately-funded spaceflight teams to compete in launching, landing, and traveling more than 500 meters across the surface of the Moon with a robot, while sending back images to Earth. It offers a total of US$30 million in prizes. Additional prizes are given for traveling ten times the baseline requirements (more than 5,000 meters), capturing images of the Apollo program remains or other man-made objects on the Moon, verifying the recent detection of water ice on the Moon, or surviving a lunar night. It clearly shows what the concerns of the organizers are.

'The Task 2015'

'The Task 2015'
Technological Innovation and Prize Incentives: The Google Lunar X Prize and Other Aerospace Competitions

34 Teams registered for the competition, most of them from the US. The first to register was a company known as Odyssey Moon, from The Isle of Man; several NASA veterans joined it. Oddly enough, this team announced on November 20, 2012, its merger with SpaceIL, the Israeli team, which is far from being a favorite candidate to win competition. On that occasion Odyssey Moon advisor Michael Potter commented, "This team has a tremendously high probability of achieving one of the greatest space challenges of our time, the landing of a private, non-governmental lander on the Moon."


From SpaceIL Pamphlet
The Seventh Landing: Going Back to the Moon, This Time to Stay

Why do NASA Veterans Need Israel?

This is the US$30 million question. SpaceIL disclosed yesterday that the launching is scheduled for May 2015 and that the cost of the project will be ... US$30 million. In other words, they want to win the first prize in order to break-even. Meanwhile, they are already making presentations in Israeli schools. They claim to have exposed the project to over 25,000 students. The technical details of their project are slim, yet, they are enough to explain NASA veterans' odd decision. The Israeli device will be tiny, just 10X10X30cm, with most of the space dedicated to the motion system. The launching will be performed by a commercial system (probably Russian), to lower costs. Was this what lured NASA? Of course not. In their recent disclosure, SpaceIL admitted getting indirect help from the Israeli Government, something that is not allowed by the rules of the competition. Israel is above these trifles.


SpaceIL Team | Fake Front

SpaceIL Team | Fake Front


Circular Deal

The Israeli government favors circular deals reminiscent of orbits around the planet. A good example of that is described in The Cross of Bethlehem. Following the nationalization of its main bank due to the explosion of an illegitimate scheme involving the inflation of their share price (in the early 1980s the banks asked their customers to invest in their shares), Israel decided to privatize the largest one, Bank HaPoalim. The bid was closed to the public; the bank was offered to a former Mossad agent, who took a loan from the second largest bank (Leumi, which was owned by the State) in order to bid for the purchase. Everything was "kosher" and the bank was private again, though under the control of someone close to the administration; simple, neat, and corrupt.

The same thing happened in all other key markets. Until 2005, Bezeq was owned by the State of Israel and had a monopoly on landline telephony and Internet access infrastructure; it is still the dominant company in this market. In that year, it was officially privatized when 30% of its shares were sold by the state to the Apax-Saban-Arkin investment group. In 2010, over 30% of the shares were purchased by B Communications, a subsidiary of Shaul Elovitch's Eurocom Group, for $1.75 billion. The pattern was repeated, as it has been all across the Israeli market, a strategic company was officially privatized while remaining in the hands of one person closely related to the government. This is where the two stories merge.

In yesterday's announcement, SpaceIL explained that Bezeq had decided to donate the communications infrastructure of the project, in other words the control room in Yehud, near the IAI headquarters; this is one of the most crucial parts of the entire project. Thus, SpaceIL has technical expertise from NASA personnel, communications expertise and infrastructure from Bezeq (which is active also in the satellites market), and launching facilities from a third party. In 2011, they admitted that they would receive help from IAI (Israel Aircraft Industries, state-owned); this has not been mentioned in their recent communications. In other words, SpaceIL is nothing but a roof organization bringing together experts and organizations. A soviet of the space era. Confirming the odd nature of this venture is an additional statement made by SpaceIL; all profits will be given to educational institutions, in a fashion fit for a governmental project and not of an "indy" operation. Everything is private and secret in this project; yet, one must ask something of the sponsors, despite the fact that for obvious reasons they won't answer. Isn't the information disclosed by SpaceIL enough to disqualify it from the competition?

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