The cause of the crash was the landing maneuver which launched but failed to land after an issue of technical origin made the main engine to stop, conducting to an altitude loss, and therefore to the inevitable crash. It provided the power to get the spacecraft all the way to the Moon, but it also took Beresheet on its final descent. Moments later, the mission was declared a failure.
After five minutes, Beresheet struck the velocity that was ideal, and the engineers burst into applause, congratulating each other with hugs and handshakes. This Thursday at the live broadcast studio, when it became clear that the spacecraft would not land as planned, IAI engineer Lee Morton, who was sitting next to me, shed a tear when I interviewed her.
The spacecraft lost communication with ground control as it was making its final descent to the moon. Then, China's Change-4 spacecraft touched down on the far-side of the Moon earlier this year. Barely the size of a washing machine, the humble Beresheet, which is among the smallest spacecraft to target moon-landing, was supposed to touch down on a plain of solidified lava, known as the Sea of Serenity.
The average distance to the Moon is 380,000km (240,000 miles) - Beresheet travelled more than 15 times that distance.
"It's a big achievement for a small country like Israel to reach the moon".
The small robotic spacecraft, built by the non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, had expected to coincide with a feat that has only been attained by the national space agencies of 3 states: U.S., Russian Federation and China. SpaceIL took advantage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch in mid-February to get its craft into space.
Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase "In the beginning", had travelled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon's gravity last week.
SpaceIL's Beresheet lander seflie during its landing attempt.
President Reuven Rivlin hosted dozens of youngsters at his official residence.
"We had a failure in the spacecraft", said a SpaceIL representative at the time.
The main Sponsor and Chairman of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, said: "in view of the large global support that I have received for this project, I decided for a new project: Beresheet 2". "Never lose hope - your hard work, teamwork, and innovation is inspiring to all!" he wrote on Twitter.
Beresheet-Genesis in Hebrew- started as a private attempt by Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL, which Kahn now chairs, to win Google's 10-year space race competition Lunar X Prize.
Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended a year ago without a victor.
SpaceIL expects the next generation of Israelis wills inspire to study engineering and science. "This is what I'm doing, and what I wanted to tell you this evening". "I think we can be proud".