Israeli spacecraft reaches the moon – with a shock



Ruth Eglash, The Washington Post

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  • TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - APRIL 11: An Israeli man reacts after the Beresheet spacecraft does not land safely on the moon on April 11, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli spacecraft, called Beresheet, which is a joint project between SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization with private funding, and Israel Aerospace Industries did not land on the lunar surface after the apparent failure of its main engine. (Photo by Amir Levy / Getty Images) Photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images

    TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – APRIL 11: An Israeli man reacts after the Beresheet spacecraft does not land safely on the moon on April 11, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli spacecraft, called Beresheet, which is a joint project between SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization with private funding, and Israel Aerospace Industries did not land on the lunar surface after the apparent failure of its main engine. (Photo by Amir Levy / Getty Images) less
    TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – APRIL 11: An Israeli man reacts after the Beresheet spacecraft does not land safely on the moon on April 11, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli spacecraft, called Beresheet, which is a set … more


    Photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images

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Photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – APRIL 11: An Israeli man reacts after the Beresheet spacecraft does not land safely on the moon on April 11, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli spacecraft, called Beresheet, which is a joint project between SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization with private funding, and Israel Aerospace Industries did not land on the lunar surface after the apparent failure of its main engine. (Photo by Amir Levy / Getty Images) less
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – APRIL 11: An Israeli man reacts after the Beresheet spacecraft does not land safely on the moon on April 11, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli spacecraft, called Beresheet, which is a set … more



Photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images

Israeli spacecraft reaches the moon – with a shock


JERUSALEM – Israel hoped that on Thursday it would become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon, but the lunar mission, which was broadcast live on Israeli television and social networks, went awry when the main engine seemed to fail . The control center suddenly lost communication with the ship a few minutes before landing.

"We have landed, but not the way we wanted," a commentator formed a crowd of spectators, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The newly re-elected leader told the team of scientists, engineers and businessmen gathered at the control center in Yehud, in central Israel, that they should not be disappointed and that it was still a great achievement. Israel, he said, would soon try to reach the moon and land the right way.


"An Israeli ship will land on the moon, in two years, three years, we will try again and we will do it," he said.

He had previously said that for the home container called Beresheet, the Hebrew word for Genesis, the first book of the Bible, "was a great step for humanity and a great leap for Israel."



The unmanned ship left Earth's atmosphere on February 21, hooked up to a Falcon 9 commercial rocket belonging to Spaceon Elon Musk from Cape Canaveral, Florida. During the last seven weeks, it covered a total distance of approximately 4 million miles, surrounding the Earth. Several times before reaching the lunar orbit on April 4. The ship began to prepare to land on the rocky surface of the moon on Wednesday.

Beresheet, which measures 1.5 meters in height and two meters in diameter, was the smallest and least expensive spacecraft in history to attempt the journey from Earth to the Moon, said the people in charge of the project. The $ 100 million company is the first private initiative of its kind, paving the way, his supporters said, for private space travel in the future.

Seven countries have tried to land on the Moon, but only three have succeeded so far: the first unmanned landing was by the former Soviet Union in 1966, then American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in 1969, and in 2013 there was a unmanned airplane. Landing for China. All were government sponsored efforts. This initiative, led by the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL, was funded primarily by Jewish donors and foundations around the world.

Before the launch, Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL and its biggest investor, "gave" the project to Israel and declared it a national project. The initiative was well received by Israel's leadership, and Netanyahu was also present at the launch.


Kahn, an Israeli billionaire born in South Africa, said he hoped the initiative would contribute significantly to space exploration in the future. The goal, he said, was also to inspire a future generation of Israeli children and realize that anything is possible.

The idea of ​​Beresheet began in 2010, when three young Israeli businessmen signed up to compete for the now defunct Google Lunar X Prize. Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Weintraub hoped to win the $ 20 million prize by landing an unmanned spacecraft built by Israel on the Moon. Even though they did not manage to win the prize, nobody did it, they created SpaceIL.

The project not only obtained financial backing from private investors, but also received support from Israeli government agencies such as Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israel Space Agency. It was these connections that last summer helped facilitate agreements with NASA and Musk & # 39; s SpaceX.


The Israelis have already experienced their share of disappointment and tragedy when it comes to space travel. Israel's only astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was among the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in 2003.


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