Press Release

Israeli Rocket Teams Enters Private Race to Space – Pledges to Continue Dream

By SpaceRef Editor
February 12, 2003
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Twenty-four Teams from Seven Countries now Registered in $10 Million X PRIZE ‘Race to Space’

St. Louis, MO (February 5, 2003)–With the entry ofIL Aerospace Technologies (ILAT)into the X PRIZE Competition, Israel became the seventh nation to compete for the $10 Million purse for the first private team to build and fly a piloted ship to the edge of space and back. This brings the total number of X PRIZE competitors to 24 teams from seven countries: Argentina, Canada, Israel, Romania, Russia, UK and the United States.


The entry is particularly significant in light of the recent loss of Colonel Ilan Ramon on the Shuttle Columbia.“Col. Ramon was a true hero in our country, and his loss affected every Israeli in the deepest sense,” said DovChartarifsky, IL Aerospace President. “Hewill forever remain in our hearts and minds. We want to honor him by carrying on his quest for space travel. We honor Col. Ramon not only because he defended our country on several occasions throughout his distinguished military career, but also because he was a great father, husband and son, an outstanding soldier and patriot, and a dear friend to all of us. Col. Ramon was and always will be a true hero of the state of Israel.”


“We at IL Aerospace Technologies are proud and honored to represent the first Israeli team to compete for the X PRIZE,” continued Chartarifsky. “The opportunity puts us in the unique position to expand our country’s presence in space. We are now attempting to write a new chapter in Israel’s space achievements.  I strongly believe that space tourism and the privatization of space as a whole is the next logical step.  If governments are not willing to support this notion, it is up to us — the private sector — to make it happen.  The X PRIZE provides a great platform for achieving this goal.”


“Following the Columbia Tragedy, X PRIZE Teams around the world have reaffirmed their commitment to pursue the goal of achieving private commercial spaceflight,” stated Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation today. “We are particularly pleased to know that the ILAT team of Israel will continue forward in the spirit of exploration.


“The X PRIZE remains committed to supporting the efforts of ILAT and the other 23 brave and innovative teams competing to design and build the first private spaceships of tomorrow,” continued Dr. Diamandis.  “History teaches us that the early days of any frontier or new transportation system are the most risky.  The best way to overcome that risk is manufacture spacecraft incrementally and fly them more frequently — learning from our experience and making improvements.”


ILATis developing an X PRIZE vehicle,Negev 5 (, that will be a self-sufficient reusable suborbital space vehicle, capable of launching three adults to 100 kilometers altitude (62 miles) twice in two weeks. The Negev 5 is an innovative design that uses a large super-pressure helium balloon as a first stage to carry the rocket and crew capsule to the upper reaches of the atmosphere (82,000 feet) before the rocket engines are ignited taking the vehicle and crew into space. This design approach overcomes most of the atmospheric drag and allows the Negev 5 to be launched and recovered anywhere in the world, from land or sea, without the need of runways, assist aircraft, costly installations or complicated procedures. The propulsion system will utilize the latest hybrid rocket technology.


About IL Aerospace Technologies

ILAT was founded with the principle objective of developing a reusable and cost effective technology aimed at transforming space tourism into a reality and expanding the human desire for space exploration. At present, the ILAT team is comprised of five team members with a combined disciplinary experience in physics, mechanics, aeronautics and material science.  All team members are veterans of the Israeli Armed Forces and have worked for leading aerospace companies in Israel and abroad.  The ILAT team will continue to expand by welcoming additional professionals as well as sponsors, students and volunteers from all walks of life that share the same team vision.


About the X PRIZE (

The X PRIZE competition, ( isthe first space prize competition and patterned from the more than 100 aviation prizes offered in the early 20th Century that created today’s $300 billion-dollar commercial air transport industry.  The most significant of these prizes was the Orteig Prize, won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 flight from New York to Paris.


To win the X PRIZE, private teams must finance, build and fly a three-person spacecraft 100 km (62 miles) to the edge of space, return safely, and then demonstrate the reusability of their vehicle by flying it again within two-weeks. A winner of the X PRIZE is expected within the next 12-24 months. The goal of the X PRIZE is to make space travel frequent and affordable for the general public.


SpaceRef staff editor.