Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Crashes Attempting Moon Landing

Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Crashes Attempting Moon Landing

Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Crashes Attempting Moon Landing

People watch the live broadcast of the SpaceIL spacecraft as it lost contact with Earth in Netanya, Israel, Thursday.

Beresheet made history as the first privately funded spacecraft to orbit the moon, but failed to stick the landing Thursday afternoon after experiencing engine issues during its descent.

Selfie taken by Beresheet 25 KM above the moon as it lands. That mission ended in failure on Thursday, but SpaceIL still proved that the sky truly is not the limit for a small group of Israelis and supporters courageous enough to break through it.

Opher Doron, of Israel Aerospace Industries, said: "We had a failure of the spacecraft". By the time power was restored, he said the craft was moving too fast to land safely. It's been reported, based on information from the livestream, that an Inertial Measurement Unit failed and the team was unable to reset the component due to a repeated loss of communications with the JPL network. "We've been telling them that science can be exciting and cool, and that they should dream big and follow their dream", Damari said. "The engine was turned off".

The 1.5m-tall spacecraft had to rapidly reduce its speed, so a final firing of the engine will in effect slam on the brakes, hopefully taking the spacecraft to a gentle stop. "I knew it would give us in Israel a sense of pride".

The IAI and SpaceIL control room for Beresheet in Yehud, Israel.

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If the spacecraft had landed on the moon successfully, Israel would have become the fourth country - behind the United States, China and the former Soviet Union - to have successfully perform a soft-landing.

Scientists, who had been giddy with excitement, were visibly distraught and celebrations at viewing centres across the country were dashed.

Meanwhile, President Reuven Rivlin soothed the children who were invited to his residence to hopefully watch a successful landing. "It is by far the smallest, cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon", he said. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward.

The spacecraft hitched a ride on a SpaceX Falcon rocket launched from Florida in February.

Beresheet was created to make some measurements of the local gravity field around its landing site during its two or three Earth days of work on the moon.

There had been much excitement leading up to the landing attempt, with the agency tweeting regular updates. The Beresheet lander ("in the beginning" in Hebrew, so named after an Israel-wide naming competition) was designed and built by SpaceIL from 2011 onwards for the Lunar X-Prize competition, and the project continued when the Lunar X-Prize was ended in 2018 without a victor, or even without an entry flying into space.

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