What's in the time capsule Israel is leaving on the moon?
With an eye toward inspiring the next generation, the project enlisted the help of the nation's children.
This Thursday night, when the SpaceIL ship launches from Cape Canaveral into space, Israel hopes to become only the fourth country to ever land on the moon. Aboard the ship, called the Beresheet, will be the hopes and dreams of an entire nation. Also onboard? A time capsule.
At a press conference in December, the SpaceIL team revealed that they would be sending along three discs – each containing hundreds of digital files. Among them are drawings of the moon and space by Israeli children, MP3 files of Israeli songs, works of Israeli art and literature and photos of Israeli landscapes.
Besides leaving a relic for some future civilization to find, SpaceIL is hoping that the participation of the country's children in the creation of the time capsule will inspire the next generation. "Kids today in Israel and also in the U.S., they're not as interested in science and engineering because it's harder," SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Winetraub told From The Grapevine. "It's much easier to watch reality TV," he added, admitting that he enjoys watching "The Real Housewives" in his spare time. "But especially here in the Startup Nation, we need scientists and engineers. So we wanted to shift the attention towards that direction."
He believes that shift will send a message that resonates with today's youth. "Kids get very excited about space. This is something very, very concrete for them," Winetraub said. "You could take your AP classes in math today, or work harder at chemistry lessons or biology lessons, then you will be able to build your own rocket ship when you grow up ... Things that would be beyond our imagination only a decade ago are now within reach. We live in an era when these kids are going to be able to make their own rocket ships, or solve global warming, or clean up the oceans or whatever it is that they want to do. The technology is going to catch up with their dreams."
Through public lectures and other activities, SpaceIL has already reached more than a million kids. They've also created an online course for students about space travel, and a children's book called "The Little Spacecraft" will be published. "This is something we're very proud of," Winetraub told us. "When you see the spark in the kids and you see how excited they are, it affects you as well. It kind of fills you up to see the sparks in their eyes."
The SpaceIL files will not be alone up on the moon. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin also left a time capsule on the lunar surface during their historic mission in July, 1969. That disc – which contained goodwill messages from the leaders of dozens of nations – currently rests in an aluminum case on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility. This summer, those same nations will be commemorating that mission with 50th anniversary celebrations.
As for the Beresheet, perhaps in another 50 years, in the year 2069, the citizens of earth will be looking back at this precise time. "It is very possible that future generations will find this information and want to learn more about this historic moment," said Winetraub.
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