'Technical Glitch' Doomed Israeli Beresheet Lander in its Final Moments

Muriel Hammond
April 14, 2019

Beresheet had been in orbit around the moon for over 1 million km before maneuvering itself into just the right position to land on the Sea of Serenity, a flat area on the lunar surface. It was several hundred feet away when Israeli officials lost control of the probe.

Beresheet was sent to the moon to shoot photos with high-resolution cameras and conduction experiments, but it appears the main engine failed while the spacecraft attempted a soft landing.

An image taken by Israel spacecraft, Beresheet, upon its landing on the moon, obtained by Reuters from Space IL on April 11, 2019.

During its final approach, Beresheet's main engine faltered.

Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing on Thursday, engine firings slowed Beresheet's descent. Engineers were able to restart the engine, but by this time the spacecraft was too close to the surface to slow down sufficiently.

Before the spacecraft's final descent, Israeli pioneers hoped for success.

It's not clear what caused the crash. He also said the company was looking at potential American partners that would make the company eligible for future rounds of the CLPS program, which requires landers to be built in the United States. More tests are slated for next week.

While China and Russian Federation have successfully landed unmanned missions on the moon, the United States has landed manned mission. In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union was the first to put a spacecraft on the moon, which was followed by NASA's Ranger 4.

Measuring 1.5 meters in height and two meters in diameter, Beresheet was the smallest and least expensive spacecraft ever to attempt the journey from Earth to the moon, said those behind the project. "We reached the moon, but we want to land more comfortably, and that is for the next time". The plans that we laid out for 2028 are the same plans that we're going to use to get to the moon in 2024.

"SpaceIL's mission not only touched the Moon, it touched the lives and hearts of an entire world that was watching", said XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement, said, "If at first you don't succeed, you try again". "Israel arrived on the moon and there's an Israeli flag on the moon".

In a related piece of awesome news, the XPrize group has chose to award a $1 million "Moonshot Award" to SpaceIL in order to help the team get started on whatever ventures they will be pursuing next.

The newly reelected leader told the team of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs gathered at the control center in Yehud, in central Israel, that they should not be disappointed and that it was still a great achievement.

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