Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Israel Crash Lands on the Moon!

Israel Crash Lands on the Moon!

The landing attempt began late Thursday, with touchdown expected around 10:25 Israel (3:25 p.m. ET).

It was the first such crash for an uncrewed mission, but far from the last. Japan, the European Space Agency and India have all crash-landed probes on the moon. But the landing was the riskiest part of the mission.

A screenshot from Instagram showing posts with the "Israel to the moon" hashtag. Beresheet's original objective was to settle on Mare Serenitatis, or the Sea of Serenity, where it would have taken images and measured the magnetism of lunar rocks.

The first mission's spacecraft was named Beresheet, aka genesis, the start, the beginning.

He said: "A [n Israeli] spacecraft will land on the moon - whole".

Israel's first attempt fell short because the craft's engine - essentially the brakes of the vehicle in this situation - cut out and stopped it from slowing itself down.

It traveled a total of 4 million miles to the moon, soaring around the Earth before entering orbit around the moon. A direct route from the Earth to the moon covers roughly 386,000 kilometres.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was on hand for what organisers had hoped to be a celebration, was pragmatic about the disappointing end to the mission.

The spacecraft also carried an Israeli flag and time capsule on its journey, containing hundreds of digital files, cultural items and materials collected by the SpaceIL crew and the general public.

Open University planetary and space science professor Monica Grady said "they'll be looking at the landing site really closely, which will help to work out how the magnetic measurements of the Moon fit in with the geology and geography of the Moon, which is really important to understand how the Moon formed".

It is an awesome achievement to have gotten this far. It is roughly the size of a washing machine, reaching a height of 1.5 meters, about two meters in width, and weighing just 600 kilograms. Team members who worked on Beresheet's moonshot reportedly interacted with more than one million school children during their efforts to kindle interest in Israel's space program and, hopefully, inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. It cost just $100 million to plan and develop, whereas other space missions in the past have run in the billions of dollars.

"We didn´t make it, but we definitely tried", project originator and major backer Morris Kahn said in a live videocast from mission control near Tel Aviv. "It's a tremendous achievement up 'til now". We dare to dream. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward.

The design of the craft changed twice since its first inception in 2011 until the final touches were made previous year.

The YouTube video window below will go live shortly before the actual landing operation is performed, and SpaceIL, the group behind the privately-funded mission, will host the show.

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