Israel's Beresheet spacecraft crashed during attempt to land on the moon

Posted April 12, 2019

"It's been an unbelievable journey, I hope we get a chance for another one". "It's when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness", Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, tweeted after the landing attempt.

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.

"We like to tell the kids that if they want to know what's in there, they just need to build a spacecraft and fly to the moon and find out themselves", Damari said.

People watch the live broadcast of the SpaceIL spacecraft as it lost contact with Earth in Netanya, Israel, Thursday, April 11, 2019.

The lander - whose name is Hebrew for Genesis - took off nearly two months ago from Cape Canaveral in Florida as part of a "ride share" with Elon Musk's SpaceX, as the Beresheet mission could not afford its own rocket.

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At 22 kilometers above the surface Beresheet sent back a selfie showing moon craters below and the Israeli flag with the phrase "small country, big dreams". An additional $5 million was available for various special accomplishments, bringing the contest's total purse to $30 million. Beresheet was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket in February and, using carefully controlled burns, moved out to orbit the Moon.

But the British-built engine that helped take Beresheet from Earth to the moon failed to properly slow the spacecraft during its final descent.

The spacecraft had a number of technical problems during its final descent to the lunar surface, the team said.

It was expected to land in the Sea of Serenity, on the northern hemisphere of the moon's near side.

There were only two ways the first-ever Moon landing for Israel was going to go. "We have also partnered with NASA, who want information from this experiment, and they also gave us another component that we added to the spacecraft which will enable them to take measurements". "However, its latest message said: "#Beresheet's main engine fail!

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And the lander has certainly done all of that.

Though Beresheet made it to the moon after the 2018 deadline for Google's Lunar XPRIZE, which promised $20 million to the first company to soft-land on the moon and complete a series of small tasks, on March 28 this year, XPRIZE announced they would still offer a $1 million Moonshot Award if Beresheet could accomplish a soft landing alone.

That competition was the Google Lunar XPrize, which started in September 2007.

To save size and money, Beresheet's designers made a decision to skip the kind of backup systems for power, communications and the like that are standard on most spacecraft.

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