A giant leap for Shteinman-kind

David Shteinman with Emanuel School students (from left) Cleo Woolf, Zac Fidler, Natasha Gering and Dan Bethlehem.

AMONG the 600 million people that watched America land Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969 was eight-year-old David Shteinman. Now a SpaceIL engineer, the dual Australian-Israeli citizen is unwavering in his dedication to the team that will land the first Israeli space craft (which will be unmanned) on the moon.

When asked by The AJN if it was actually possible to land such a craft on the moon, Shteinman laughed and said: “It’s definitely possible. We’ve booked a rocket to launch in December 2017. Trust me, it’s -happening.”

CEO of the Industrial Sciences Group, Shteinman is a specialist in the use of mathematics and statistics in engineering projects. His main role within the SpaceIL team is to assist with computer simulations for navigating to and landing on the moon. 

Starting as a volunteer in 2012, he quickly rose through the ranks to become an irreplaceable member of the team competing for the $30 million Google Luna X prize for the first non-government-funded team to land a robotic craft on the moon.

The cash award though is not what inspires Shteinman and his colleagues.

“We’re not doing it for the money,” he said. “The project is costing more money than the prize is actually worth. We’re doing it as a technical challenge, to put Israel on the map of planetary exploration and to inspire children all over the world to be interested in ‘real science’.”

He added, “SpaceIL is certainly the most exciting and interesting project I have ever had the privilege to work on. It’s thrilling to do something very difficult to prove that it can be done.”

Shteinmen hopes to be in the mission control room at the SpaceIL headquarters on Israel as the craft launches from the Cape Canaveral SpaceX launch site in Florida.

Meanwhile, his three children are incredibly interested in their father’s work: “They’re excited, like everyone, they’re just waiting to see it take off! What is hard about this is that it’s a long-term project. It needs a lot of patience.”

When the craft lands, “I’ll be over the moon,” Shteinman joked. “I’ll be ecstatic.” 

Shteinman will return to Israel this week to work on the next phase of the project. “I’ve met lots of other people like me, who have always dreamed of space. And the craft that we will land on the moon in December 2017 will be there for a thousand years.”

To follow the project, visit www.spaceil.com.

YAEL BRENDER