Sheldon Adelson-Backed Israeli Lunar Mission Prepares for Blast Off Friday

Posted on: February 19, 2019, 12:38h. 

Last updated on: February 19, 2019, 12:38h.

First, he conquered Las Vegas, then Macau, now… the moon! An Israeli space project, SpaceIL, bankrolled by LVS chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson is preparing to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Friday from Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher.

Sheldon Adelson
SpaceIL’s “Beresheet” hopes to be the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. Las Vegas Sands Corp Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson has plowed $24 million into the project. (Image: SpaceIL)

From there, it will slingshot around the Earth at least six times before making expected contact with the surface of the moon on April 11.

If the mission is successful, Israel will become only the fourth country in the world to make it to the moon, after the US, Russia (or Soviet Union), and China.

This will also be the first private lunar mission. Along with Adelson — who has contributed around $24 million to the project — SpaceIL has also been financed by South-African born Israeli philanthropist and businessman Morris Kahn.

Adelson is the wealthiest casino owner in the world and the 21st richest man on earth, with an estimate fortune of $38.5 billion, according to Forbes’ most recent Billionaire’s List — so why the hell not send a rocket to the moon?

The Final Frontier

The 85-year-old tycoon won’t be on board, though. Weighing around 400 lbs, the spacecraft, named “Beresheet,” or “In the Beginning,” is roughly the size of a washing machine, but it’s equipped with technology to measure the moon’s magnetic field. It also contains a copy of the Bible.

SpaceIL was formed in 2011 by three young engineers with the goal of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. The cause of furthering Israel’s standing in the world is one that’s close to Adelson’s heart — as are all things Israeli, including his wife, Miriam.

A committed Zionist, Adelson gives generously to Jewish causes across the world — he is the primary funder of Birthright Israel, the program that flies young Jews to Israel for free, and a major donor to Holocaust remembrance and the Israeli American Council, among others.

He also gives generously to non-Jewish causes, such as medical research and drug rehabilitation programs in the US.

Entering Cyberspace

Adelson’s other major financial indulgence is the Republican Party, having donated close to $200 million over the years — including $20 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and $55 million more in the midterms.

Many believe that this has bought him political capital with the Trump administration and that he recently cashed out.

The Department of Justice’s revised opinion on the Wire Act — that it prohibits other forms of cross-border online gambling other than sports betting — allies closely with Adelson’s own well-publicized determination to eradicate regulated remote gaming from the United States.

But a lawsuit filed Friday by the New Hampshire Lottery seeking to block the enforcement of the new opinion — and further legal action threatened by New Jersey, and perhaps others — could be about bring Adelson back down to earth with a bump.