Israeli space mission: Time to leave your capsule if you dare

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Israeli space mission: Time to leave your capsule if you dare

A record of Earth’s civilisation will soon reach the moon in an attempt to establish a memory of humanity

Sanet Oberholzer


If all goes to plan, a time capsule containing a record of Earth’s civilisation in the form of a 30 million-page archive will soon enter orbit around the moon.
This Lunar Library is etched onto 25 DVD-size metal disks in the Israeli Beresheet lunar lander launched from Cape Canaveral in February by Israeli non-profit organisation SpaceIL.
The time capsule contains the complete English version of Wikipedia, tens of thousands of books, textbooks, and a guide to 5,000 languages. The Lunar Library also contains a collection of songs and written pieces about Israeli culture and history.
It was described as a “civilisation backup” by Nova Spivack, co-founder of the Arch Mission Foundation, the Los Angeles-based non-profit organisation behind the time capsule project.
Spivack told NBC News: “One of the primary evolutionary challenges that we face is amnesia about our past mistakes, and the lack of active countermeasures to repeating them … For the survival of our species, we need to find ways to raise our awareness of what worked and didn’t work, and we need to ensure it is shared with the people of the future.”
Arch Mission Foundations says its vision is to create a memory of humanity by maintaining a backup of Earth “designed to continuously preserve and disseminate humanity’s most important knowledge across time and space”.
It is preserving this knowledge along with the biology of Earth in a solar system-wide project called The Billion Year Archive. As part of this project, the non-profit plans to send more such collections to different locations in the galaxy.
Spivack added: “We want the archive to last longer than the moon itself … If we place enough copies in enough places, some will make it into the distant future, no matter what happens on Earth, the moon, Mars or any other location.”
The Beresheet was launched along with an Indonesian communications satellite, a US Air Force satellite, and an instrument to study the moon. It is predicted to reach the moon around Thursday. Israel is seeking to become the fourth country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon, after the USSR, US and China.

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