Israel's Beresheet spaceship CRASHES on Moon - DISASTER for Israel Space Agency

Pablo Tucker
April 11, 2019

Seven countries have attempted to land on the moon, but only three have succeeded so far - the first unmanned landing was by the former Soviet Union in 1966, then American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in 1969, and in 2013 there was an unmanned landing by China.

Beresheet snapped this partial selfie during its approach to the moon. 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.

The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet reached the moon on Thursday but its planned controlled, or "soft", landing was unsuccessful, the support team said. But with the original prize money off the table, mission managers don't want to risk Beresheet with any additional maneuvers once it lands.

The unmanned spacecraft would have taken Israel into an exclusive club of space-exploring nations.

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by three Israeli engineers (Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub) who wanted to enter the Google Lunar X-Prize competition which at the time was teeming with competitor teams trying to win the $30 million prize. SpaceIL will land its spacecraft "Beresheet", which, in hebrew, means Genesis.

The competition ended a year ago without a victor, but SpaceIL and partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country's biggest aerospace and defense company, continued working on the 5-foot-tall (1.5 meters) Beresheet. Beresheet, which is the size of a washing machine and weighs about 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), was expected to bounce about 500 metres along the moon's surface, taking panoramic photos and measuring the body's magnetic field. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the US on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch.

The goal is to place the lander in the Sea of Serenity on the moon, said NASA. The actual building of the spacecraft from full-scale development took just four years. But Beresheet was not a science mission at heart.

"Well, we didn't make it but we definitely tried", Morris Kahn, an entrepreneur who helped found the Beresheet mission, said shortly after the spacecraft's failed landing attempt.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated byKarl Tate), is out now.

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