Wednesday, 24 Apr 2019 - 19 of Nisan, 5779

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

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reassured children at his residence that, despite the ending, the mission was successful for Israel, calling it “a big and excellent achievement—that has not yet been accomplished.”

By JNS

In the end, the Israeli spacecraft “Beresheet” did not land on the moon on Thursday after a failure in its main engine just before touchdown that caused it to crash into the lunar surface.

“Beresheet,” named after the first word and the first book in the Torah (meaning “in the beginning”), lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 22. and almost completed its 6.5 million kilometer journey to the lunar surface. It has already succeeded in entering the moon’s orbit, which is an accomplishment achieved by only seven countries.

Following the result, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately announced that Israel will make another attempt, likely in the next two to three years.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” he said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reassured the children gathered at his residence that, despite the ending, the mission was successful for Israel, calling it “a big and excellent achievement—that has not yet been accomplished.”

“This is an important night for the State of Israel,” he added. “There is no need to be disappointed. We need to praise what we accomplished.”

The spacecraft is a project of SpaceIL, started eight years ago when its co-founders attempted to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge by being the first private team to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back to Earth high-definition video and images. The contest ended in March 2018 with no winner.

However, SpaceIL’s implementers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yehonatan Weintraub pressed on, acquiring the backing of multiple donors, including Canadian billionaire Morris Kahn.

SpaceIL’s effort was assisted by NASA. Only the United States, Russia and China have landed crafts on the moon, with India working on it.

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