Israel Poised to Join Cosmic Powers with Lunar Landing

Bridenstine Space Symposium

First privately funded spacecraft ‘is about to land on the moon’

The Israeli Aerospace Industry's space division and SpaceIL, the non-profit that sent the craft into space, are now indicating they presume it to be damaged beyond further function. The engine was stopped and the spacecraft crashed. By the time power was restored, he said the craft was moving too fast to land safely.

Minutes before the craft was due to land, its main engine shut down and communication with the spacecraft was lost.

During descent, Beresheet managed to send home one last image, from a height of 22 kilometers above the lunar surface. "And we really are making this dream come true". "It's when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness".

The lander also carried a reflector from Nasa to help scientists make accurate measurements of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Netanyahu also predicted that Israel would land a ship successfully in two or three years.


"We will try again", said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vowing to make a successful moon landing in the next two years. It would have been the fourth country to land a craft successfully on the surface if Beresheet had succeeded.

NASA's Deep Space Network allowed SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency to communicate with Bersheet during the journey to the moon. Israeli Envoy Elad Ratson tweeted what was to be the last photo Beresheet sent home (above). Now, the Beresheet lander is gone and we're left with plenty of questions as to why.

No one won the contest, but SpaceIL pressed forward with the financial assistance of Kahn, who had a net worth close to US$1 billion at the time, and other donors. The $100 million needed for the ambitious project came from private investors.

"For me it actually started on Facebook when a friend wrote to me saying he wanted to open the Israeli team to compete in the X Prize", Damari said. "I enjoy this process".

"It is by far the smallest, the cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon", said Doron. "It nearly seems un-doable, and even if it was doable, it takes somebody with imagination to actually see why you would do it". The SpaceIL crew chose to continue with the mission - with or without the prize money - and kept dimensions of their lunar lander to a minimum and with as low redundancy as possible.


"We are ready for landing!" When adjusted for inflation, that sum is roughly US$3.5 billion today - about US$500 million per mission.

Joining in the festivities, the Israeli Airports Authority listed the expected moon landing on its arrivals timetable. The location was chosen because of the site's magnetic anomalies. Then, thanks to a combination of ground control and mechanical errors, the main engine failed to fire.

The landing has been a long time coming, with SpaceIL originally being a participant in the Google Lunar XPrize competition which ended unceremoniously after none of the competitors could deliver a landing-capable spacecraft within the extended deadline date.

IAI has expressed an interest in using that platform for future missions.


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