Israel's Moon Mission Crashes

Bridenstine Space Symposium

Israel's Moon Mission Crashes

The engineering team at SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said that the first technical issue occurred 14km above the lunar surface.

If successful, Beresheet would also make the first lunar landing by a craft not from a government programme.

"We thought it's about time for a change, and we want to get little Israel all the way to the moon", Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of Israel's SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization behind the effort, told The Associated Press in February.

Its origins lie in the Google Lunar XPrize, an worldwide challenge offering $20m for the first privately developed spacecraft to land on the Moon.

The spacecraft lost communication with Earth just moments before it was to touch down. However, Israel's moon mission was not a total failure as Beresheet was able to enter the lunar orbit on April 4 after a month and a half in transit, making the country the seventh nation in the world to achieve this spatial feat.

It was only in the final few minutes that things went awry for Beresheet, when mission control lost communications with the spacecraft about 500 feet above the lunar surface.

On Wednesday night, the spacecraft shifted into a more elliptical orbit in preparation for its moon landing. Only seven nations have orbited the Moon, which means Israel still has a feather for its proverbial cap - just not the one it intended. While talking at the space symposium on April 9, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator stated that the upcoming lunar mission, which would take humans to moon, could not be carried out by U.S. alone. Previously, only government space agencies from China, the former Soviet Union, and the US have achieved successful moon landings.

"Well, we didn't make it, but we definitely tried", Kahn said after failure during Thursday's broadcast. In January, it succeeded in landing an unmanned vessel on the far side of the moon as the first country to do so.

SpaceIL, a non-profit organization funded primarily philanthropically, initially planned to build a very small lander as a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize.

What was the spacecraft supposed to do on the moon?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off his victory in Tuesday's general election, was expected to watch from the control room in Yehud, near Tel Aviv. He congratulated SpaceIL for coming close to a landing, and said he would visit Israel later this year to discuss potential future cooperation. "It's been an awesome journey, I hope we get a chance for another one".

Its first job was to use its high resolution cameras to take some photos - including a selfie - and then send those back to Earth. Beresheet's original objective was to settle on Mare Serenitatis, or the Sea of Serenity, where it would have taken images and measured the magnetism of lunar rocks.

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