Israeli spacecraft crashes in attempt to reach moon

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The story of Beresheet, which means "genesis" or "in the beginning" in Hebrew, began in 2011, when SpaceIL was founded with the objective of taking Israel to the moon.

The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communication failures during the 21 minutes of the landing sequence, the support team said. The $100 million joint venture between SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. was financed mostly by Jewish philanthropists including Morris Kahn, SpaceIL's president and a founder of Amdocs Ltd., and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

"We definitely crashed on the surface of the moon", said Opher Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries. "It's been an wonderful journey, I hope we get a chance for another one".

Following the result, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately announced that Israel will make another attempt, likely in the next two to three years.

The mission ended Israel's hopes of joining the ranks of Russian Federation, the USA and China as the only countries to have made controlled landings on Earth's nearest neighbour.

As we reported back in February, Israel had sent a lunar lander up with a SpaceX launch with the intention of landing on the moon. "We're extraordinarily proud they made it this far".

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Israel is now the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon - if you're counting a crash-landing as a landing.

In other words, despite the less-than-perfect landing, Xprize will still award the group their full $1-million Dollars prize so SpaceIL can "continue their work and pursue Beresheet 2.0" in the near future.

In an explainer video, SpaceIL and IAI said its preparations for the historic moon landing included locating a level plain with a diameter of 30 km free of rocks and craters.

The SpaceIL nonprofit group was able to keep going even as other teams began to drop out of the competition, and as the original deadline to win the X-Prize was extended.

Last week, Beresheet executed the engine burn needed to put itself into orbit around the moon. 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.

But it was too late: Moments later, SpaceIL lost communication with the spacecraft, indicating it had likely crashed into the lunar surface. "Never lose hope - your hard work, teamwork, and innovation is inspiring to all!" tweeted Aldrin, who was a member of the US Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969. It was then launched on the back of a SpaceX rocket where it orbited the Earth over and over, using the planet's gravity to accelerate the craft and the rocket's propulsion system to steer it away from the atmosphere in short, controlled bursts.

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