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Beresheet: Israel spacecraft crashes during historic moon landing attempt, SpaceIL support team says

The spacecraft had been launched in February 

Chelsea Ritschel
Thursday 11 April 2019 21:23 BST
'We didn't make it, but we definitely tried' Israel spacecraft Beresheet crashes during historic moon landing attempt

An attempt by Israeli non-profit SpaceIL to land its spacecraft Beresheet on the Moon has failed after the unmanned lunar lander crashed.

SpaceIL confirmed the Thursday attempt was not successful on the company’s livestream of the event.

“We have a failure of the spacecraft,” said Opher Doron, the general manager of the Israel Aerospace Industries space programme. “We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully.”

If the mission had been successful, SpaceIL would have become the first private entity to land a spacecraft softly on the Moon’s surface, a feat previously only achieved by the United States, China and the former Soviet Union.

The cause of the crash was apparent failure of the main engine.

Beresheet, which means “Genesis” or “in the beginning” in Hebrew, was a joint project funded by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries.

The mission, which began in February when the spacecraft was launched into space by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, has cost roughly $100m (£76.5m) – a fraction of the cost typical for government-funded spacecrafts sent to the Moon.

Despite failing to complete its landing, Beresheet did manage to orbit the Moon, a feat only achieved by six other nations.

Before crashing to the lunar surface, Beresheet was able to take a picture of itself with the Moon in the background.

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Of the Thursday attempt, Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, said: “Well we didn’t make it, but we definitely tried. And I think the achievement of getting to where we got is really tremendous. I think we can be proud.”

Nasa also had words of encouragement for SpaceIL after the mission.

“While NASA regrets the end of the TeamSpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing, we congratulate SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit,” Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

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