Science

Oops! Israel’s Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon

Oops! Israel’s Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon

Israel's first moon lander came up just short in its historic touchdown bid this afternoon (April 11). The first of a number of rocket engine firings was accomplished three days after liftoff and the team overcame issues involving a star tracker as well as an unexpected computer reset (likely due to cosmic radiation) to get the lander into lunar orbit on April 4th.

The Beresheet spacecraft is traveling in an elliptical orbit around the moon at some 6,120 km per hour, and the landing process, which is autonomous, will begin at an altitude of 25 km and at a distance of 800 km from the landing site.

People in the Israeli city of Netanya watching images taken by the camera of the Israel Beresheet spacecraft of the moon surface before it crashed.

Joining in the festivities, the Israeli Airports Authority listed the expected moon landing on its arrivals timetable.

In the 1960s before the Apollo lunar landings, NASA sent seven unmanned Surveyor flights to the moon and two failed, he said.

"We will try again", said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vowing to make a successful moon landing in the next two years.

It is an unbelievable achievement to have gotten this far.

Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, which was set to land on the moon today, suffered an engine and communications failure, causing it to instead crash into the lunar surface. "True, not as we had hoped, but we will succeed in the end".

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had placed a time capsule in the lander filled with digital files covering Israel's history and heritage.

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The world's first privately-funded and operated lunar lander, an entrant in the defunct Google Lunar X-Prize competition, is about to attempt a landing on the lunar surface.

Beresheet's landing would have made Israel the fourth country to put a robotic probe on the lunar surface, after Russian Federation, the United States and China.

"I think with this mission we have opened up the glass ceiling of exploring the universe for humanity in general", Kfir Damari, co-founder of SpaceIL, the company that built Beresheet, told Newsweek.

Phil Larson of the University of Colorado, who was a space adviser in the Obama White House, said the Israeli effort underlines that "space is still extremely hard, and landing human made objects on other worlds is an utmost challenge".

Only the US, China, and Russian Federation have successfully landed on 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.

"We didn't make it, but we definitely tried", project originator and major backer Morris Kahn said in a live videocast from mission control near Tel Aviv. "We can be proud".

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.