Israel Shoots for the Moon!
MAOZ Report, Featured Blog by Shani Sorko-Ram Ferguson, June 2019
Yariv Bash never quite fit the mold of success. He graduated from a public high school with mediocre grades. But that was largely because he was busy getting a college degree in computer science. In those days, the IDF hadn’t yet realized that the best minds – the kind that should be in a room processing strategic military ideas – aren’t easy to identify on paper. So the army sent him to an elite combat unit.
That was quite fine with him. He was an adrenaline junkie anyway. He loved extreme sports – motorcycles, snowboards – and thought nothing of the risks when he jumped off a cliff with a hovercraft he built himself. “The army,” he said, “helped me understand who I was. It showed me I could push myself past what I thought were my limits.”
When he was released from the army, he was invited to work for a governmental branch of Research and Development. One of their annual projects was to come up with an entirely unnecessary invention, simply for the sake of encouraging thinking outside the box. Yariv suggested the idea of making a spaceship out of plastic that could make it to the edge of space. They would take a picture and call it the first Israeli spaceship.
That night he visited a friend and shared his idea. His friend told him about a Google Lunar challenge that was offering 20 million dollars to any private company who could successfully put a spacecraft on the moon by 2012, maneuver it a bit on the surface and send back pictures. It felt like destiny for Yariv and that night he purchased the domain spaceil.com (IL is the official abbreviation for Israel). The next day he wrote on Facebook, “Who wants to go to the moon?” A bunch of people laughed. Two of his friends, Yonatan Damari and Kfir Winetraub wanted in.