Israel's first private mission to the moon fails

Beresheet suffered technical problems, new mission in 2 years

12 April, 12:17

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, APRIL 12 - Israeli spacecraft Beresheet suffered technical problems to its main engine and navigation system, leading to the failure of what was supposed to be a record mission.

    Another mission will be attempted in two years, said Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Descent operations to the lunar surface started at 9 pm Italian time and everything proceeded as scheduled for about 20 minutes. Beresheet, which in Hebrew means 'in the beginning', had even snapped a selfie with the tag symbolizing the mission and the moon's surface in the background.

    When landing appeared imminent, the control system lost contact with the spacecraft, a blackout that lasted a few minutes after which an engine failure was reported.

    Opher Doron, the general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries' space division, announced there had been a failure in the spacecraft.

    ''We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully'', Doron said.

    Subsequently, problems were also reported to the inertial navigation systems with the failure of what was supposed to be a record mission, the first that would have taken a private vehicle to land on the moon.

    Beresheet was meant to land on Mare Serenitatis, the same spot as NASA's Apollo 17 mission on December 11, 1972.

    Israel hoped to become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon after the Soviet Union, the US and China.

    The spacecraft was built in Israel by SpaceIL, a non-profit organization that raised 100 million dollars thanks to entrepreneurs, research institutes, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israeli Space agency. The Swedish Space Corporation and NASA also participated with communication technology. The Leonardo group built solar panels in Nerviano (Milan).

    Launched on February 22 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Beresheet journeyed through a series of ever-widening orbits around the earth, before being captured by the moon's gravity and moving into lunar orbit on April 4.

    The aim of the mission was to research the composition and magnetism of lunar rocks.

    The mission had taken part in the competition Goggle Lunar X Prize, which last March had pledged one million dollars to SpaceIL if it succeeded. The prize's sponsors overnight announced that SpaceIL will be granted the prize to attempt a second mission. (ANSAmed)
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