Israel moon mission: Spacecraft loses contact and CRASHES on the moon

Olive Hawkins
April 11, 2019

It's aiming for a landing site a few hundred miles east of the Apollo 15 landing site, and the landing will be live-streamed by SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit behind the mission.

The landing process for Beresheet is expected to begin just after 8pm on Thursday night.

Israeli firm Space IL's Beresheet suffered problems with the main engine before controllers lost communication with the craft. The failed mission will be remembered as a bittersweet experience. "It's a tremendous achievement up 'til now".

The Beresheet team members worked in the control room as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched from a spectator area.

Only three countries have completed the formidable task of landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface - the United States, Russia (then the USSR) and China. "We need to praise what we accomplished".

Israel's Beresheet lunar lander took a selfie and an Earthie on its way to the Moon. But should everything go according to plan, the spacecraft will begin to reduce its altitude and when it reaches an altitude of 5 km, it will begin measuring the moon's precise surface in preparation for its landing. An additional $5 million was available for various special accomplishments, bringing the contest's total purse to $30 million.

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The non-profit SpaceIL designed and built the craft with $100 million USA donated nearly entirely by private donors.

The launch of the Beresheet spacecraft aboard a SpaceX rocket on February 22, 2019. Beresheet continued looping around our planet for the next six weeks, performing engine burns now and again to push its elliptical orbit closer and closer to the moon.

Israel's planned moon landing, scheduled for 10pm, sits between incoming flights from Istanbul and Madrid on the Israel Airports Authority's arrival timetable. Beresheet has already sent back stunning pictures of the Earth and Moon during its travels so far, and plans to continue.

Excitement was high over the lunar mission in Israel, where it has been discussed in schools and promoted on television.

The goal is to place the lander in the Sea of Serenity on the moon, said NASA.

"Back when we got started, we thought it was going to be a two-year project, the budget would be less than $10 million, and the spacecraft will weigh less than five kilogrammes", he said. The craft also toted a small laser retroreflector array built by NASA, a technology demonstration that could increase the precision of future touchdowns on the moon and other celestial bodies.

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