Mission (almost) accomplished: Israel's 'Beresheet' spacecraft crashes into surface of moon

12 April, 2019, 09:44 | Author: Emilio Conner
  • Could this plan work? More

Once on the moon, Beresheet had been set to take photos of the lunar surface and measure the magnetic field of the landing area in the moon's Sea of Tranquility.

The robotic moon lander was built by the non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. "And I think the achievement of getting to where we got is really tremendous".

Israel's unmanned Beresheet spacecraft has been making its journey to the moon for some seven weeks, having launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 22 as a secondary payload on a SpaceX rocket. "Close to $400 million has been invested in an industry no one was looking at before".

SpaceIL announced its intention to land a privately developed and funded spacecraft on the Moon in 2011, during an worldwide space conference in Israel. It was built by state-owned IAI and Israeli non-profit space venture SpaceIL with $100 million funded nearly entirely by private donors. The $100 million mission was financed largely by Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and a handful of other investors.

"We were initially aiming for a much smaller spacecraft based on satellite technology".

However, the lander suffered a problem with that main engine later during its descent. "It's the size of a dining table".

It reached a speed of 10 kilometres per second.

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So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed on the Moon.

Israel's Beresheet spacecraft crashed on the moon's surface after experiencing difficulties during its landing process. "So we're giving the command to start, but the spacecraft must do it by itself". SpaceIL continued its mission even after the grand prize expired in March 2018 when Google declined to provide another extension to a competition that had an original deadline of the end of 2012.

"I want to turn to kids that might be watching us", Yonatan Winetraub said in a press conference after the crash. "We're extraordinarily proud they made it this far".

He went on: "Right now I'm feeling a combination of all emotions: super-excited, nervous to see what's going to happen, and exhausted after a long, long journey".

The next few years were defined by successes for both agencies until July 21, 1969, when - just as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were completing the first moonwalk - Luna 15 lost contact with ground control and likely barreled into the lunar surface.

Although the mission failed, it was relatively affordable compared with previous lunar-landing attempts. But in that time, the team hopes to gain some valuable insights.

"We are full of admiration for the wonderful people who brought the spacecraft to the moon", Rivlin said. The craft also toted a small laser retroreflector array built by NASA, a technology demonstration that could increase the precision of future touchdowns on the moon and other celestial bodies. The man responded that it might take two or three years.

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