Israeli spacecraft landing on moon today

Clark Diaz
April 12, 2019

Israel's lunar probe Beresheet appeared to have crashed on the moon's surface Thursday after its main engine failed, the Israel Space Agency tweeted. Mission control lost communications with the spacecraft when it was about 489 feet (149 meters) above the moon's surface.

The lander carried a high-resolution video camera system, a magnetometer to map the moon's magnetic field and a mirror-like retroreflector that the laser altimeter on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter can use to gauge Beresheet's exact position on the surface.

The final manoeuvre on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, around 15 km (9 miles) from the surface at its closest.

Beresheet was aiming to land at an area known as the Sea of Serenity, or Mare Serenitatis in Latin, which is near where Apollo 17 astronauts landed in 1972, NASA said.

An Israeli spacecraft lost contact with Earth and crashed just moments before it was to land on the moon late Thursday, failing in an ambitious attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar mission.

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"If at first you don't succeed, you try again", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently secured his fifth term, added. "And that caused an unfortunate chain of events we're not sure about", he said, according to the AP report.

Beresheet is the smallest spacecraft ever to be sent to the moon.

Furthermore, it will make Israel the fourth nation-and the smallest by quite a distance-to land a spacecraft on the moon, along with the United States, China and Russian Federation (when it was part of the Soviet Union).

President Reuven Rivlin hosted dozens of youngsters at his official residence. The trip will total a distance of 6.5 million kilometers, which is the longest journey to the moon.

The SpaceIL team also placed a digital time capsule aboard the lander, featuring a DVD with 30 million pages worth of data called the "lunar library" that is a full compendium of human knowledge, intended as a backup if humanity got into trouble, or to show any alien beings that come across Beresheet in the far future that humanity existed. "True, not as we had hoped, but we will succeed in the end".

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Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended past year without a victor.

McCurdy said almost 50 years ago Neil Armstrong had to fly eight kilometers (five miles) before landing to avoid hitting a rock and had to deal with a malfunctioning radar altimeter.

Its Mission Control room was at Israel Aerospace Industries in Yehud, Israel. "We can be proud".

"Space is hard, but worth the risks".

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