Israeli spacecraft Beresheet barely misses soft landing on moon

Israel’s ambitions for a moon landing will have to wait for now as Beresheet, the first privately funded mission to the moon, barely missed the lunar landing as it crashed in the last part of its journey.

The spacecraft crash landed on the moon moments before it was supposed to soft land, reports indicate. If the country would have managed to soft land the spacecraft on moon, it would have made it the fourth country to do so after the US, the former Soviet Union and China. The $100 million spacecraft, built by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, lost communications with the control room during the landing sequence. At the time of the communications failure, the Beresheet was travelling at 2,110 mph and was about 120 km from its intended landing site.

“I am sorry to say that our spacecraft did not make it in one piece to the moon,” Opher Doron, the manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division, said. “We made it all the way to the moon. This is a great accomplishment. We are the seventh country to make it all the way to the moon.”

Back in 2008, NASA has signed an agreement with the Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission. The US space agency contributed a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL shared data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft.

The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, measured the magnetic field on and above the landing site. If the landing would have been successful and the instrument active, the data collected by it would have been made publicly available through NASA’s Planetary Data System.