The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet – attempted a soft landing to the moon, but due to technical problems has crashed on the lunar surface.
A successful soft landing of Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft would have made Israel the fourth country in the world to do so — soft land on the lunar surface following Russia, the US, and China.
“I regret to say that our spacecraft did not make it in one piece to the moon,” said Opher Doron, the manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division. “We made it all the way to the moon, which is a great accomplishment. We are the seventh country to make it.”
The spacecraft is built by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, which costs $100 million, lost communications with the control room in Israel during the landing. The program managers responsible for the mission, who also had been watching the mission in the real-time tried to re-establish communications, they also dealt with issues in the spacecraft’s main engine.
The managers further reported that, at the time of the communications failure, the spacecraft was traveling at approximately 2,110 mph and was about 120 kilometers (about 74 miles) from its intended landing site.
“There is a suspicion that the Beresheet did not land on the moon in the best fashion. We are trying to clarify the matter,” a member of the SpaceIL team monitoring the landing sequence said. The spacecraft crashed at the very last moment of its journey, just before it was supposed to land.
SpaceIL is an Israeli organization, established in 2011 to compete for the Google Lunar Xprize. The contest offered $20 million for the first privately funded team to launch a spacecraft to the moon, transmit high-definition video and travel 500 meters in any direction.
Though the Xprize was canceled in January 2018 the Israeli team decided to continue its pursuit of the moon landing.
The Beresheet spacecraft was launched on board a Falcon 9 rocket in late February. It traveled a total of four million miles to the moon, elevating around the earth before entering orbit around the moon.