Israeli spacecraft crashes on surface of the moon

12 Avril, 2019, 03:59 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Could this plan work? More

"We came close but unfortunately didn't succeed with the landing process", the team said in a tweet.

The SpaceIL nonprofit group was able to keep going even as other teams began to drop out of the competition, and as the original deadline to win the X-Prize was extended.

To prepare for landing, the spacecraft's engines fired, as it needed to slow from more than 3,730 miles per hour to a full stop to touch down on the moon's surface.

It had been hoped that the small robotic spacecraft, built by the nonprofit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, would match a feat that has been achieved only by the national space agencies of three countries: U.S., Russian Federation and China. The lander presumably smashed into the moon's surface likely destroying its instrumentation that was to be used during the mission.

Had the mission been successful, the 160-kilogram unmanned four-legged spacecraft would have been the smallest and cheapest spacecraft ever to land on the moon. It came at the end of a long, looping journey, a month and a half after the dishwasher-sized lander was sent into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a pre-launch logistical assist from Seattle-based Spaceflight.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present at the launch following his reelection, also commented on the failure from the mission's control center in Yehud, Israel. Mission control lost communications with the spacecraft when it was about 489 feet (149 meters) above the moon's surface.

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NASA, for example, spent about US$469 million in the 1960s on seven similarly sized Surveyor lunar landers. The location was chosen because of the site's magnetic anomalies.

"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.

Beresheet's slow-and-steady strategy paid off on April 4, when the moon's gravity captured the lander. "We have also partnered with NASA, who want information from this experiment, and they also gave us another component that we added to the spacecraft which will enable them to take measurements".

"Well, we didn't make it, but we definitely tried", Kahn said after failure during Thursday's broadcast.

The main goals, SpaceIL and IAI representatives have said, involved advancing Israel's space program, increasing the nation's technological knowhow and getting young people more interested in science, technology, engineering and math. "We're extraordinarily proud they made it this far".

The data will be shared with USA space agency NASA.

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