Israel's spacecraft crashes on to the moon

Israel's spacecraft crashes on to the moon

The SpaceIL spacecraft was originally designed to meet regulations set out by the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition, an worldwide contest that challenged the world's engineers to create and send the first private lander to the moon.

It suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the 21 minutes or so of the landing sequence.

Beresheet, built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for non-profit organization SpaceIL, was attempting a landing in the Mare Serenitatis region of the moon at about 3:25 p.m.

The Israeli mission comes amid renewed global interest in the moon, 50 years after American astronauts first walked on its surface.

"We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully", said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division of IAI, during a webcast of the landing attempt from mission control in Israel. "I'm not crushed, I'm disappointed, but I'm very proud of what we achieved".

A packed audience including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had gathered at mission control to watch the event, which was broadcast live on national television and YouTube.

The lander presumably smashed into the moon's surface likely destroying its instrumentation that was to be used during the mission.

Had the mission been successful, it would have made Israel the fourth nation ever to have a spacecraft survive a lunar-landing attempt.




He added: "What we've done with the project is use space technology that already existed in Israel, but we took it to the next level". The Trump-led United States administration too wants to send astronauts back to the moon.

If successful, Beresheet would have become the first lunar landing by a craft not from a government program.

"I want to turn to kids that might be watching us", Yonatan Winetraub said in a press conference after the crash.

Israeli scientists stand next to unmanned spacecraft, Beresheet. "It was an XPrize competition to put a spacecraft on the Moon and win a US$20 million prize", Kahn told Business Insider before to Beresheet's launch.

McCurdy said almost 50 years ago Neil Armstrong had to fly eight kilometers (five miles) before landing to avoid hitting a rock and had to deal with a malfunctioning radar altimeter.

Rob Westcott, senior propulsion engineer at Nammo, said: "We've never used an engine in this kind of application before".

It lost communication with Earth just moments before it was due to make its lunar landing.

After eight years of development, Beresheet spacecraft was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Friday, January 22. The SpaceIL crew chose to continue with the mission - with or without the prize money - and kept dimensions of their lunar lander to a minimum and with as low redundancy as possible.

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