Israel Mission to The Moon: In the beginning Beresheet

Posted by Beverley Smith on


In the beginning Israel planned a mission to the moon. However it was announced recently that Israel's first privately-funded mission to the moon has crashed on the lunar surface. 


The name of the spacecraft that was used for the mission is known as Beresheet. The main aim of the mission  was to make Israel one of the few countries to perform a soft touchdown on the surface of the moon.


Israel's Mission to the Moon: Beresheet

 Image source:wiki


Had this mission been successful, this would have made Israel the fourth country to perform a soft landing on the surface of the moon and by far the smallest nation to do so.

The other nations that have been able to successfully perform a soft landing on the surface of the moon include the former Soviet Union, China, and the United States.

But unfortunately, the mission was unsuccessful because the spacecraft experienced technical problems that resulted in the apparent failure of the main engine on its descent to the moon.

The main aim of this mission is to take pictures and perform experiments on the surface of the moon.

"I am sorry to say that our spacecraft did not make it in one piece to the moon," said Opher Doron, the manager of Israel Aerospace Industries' Space Division.

"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."

"We didn't make it, but we definitely tried," said project originator and major backer Morris Kahn.

"I think that the achievement of getting to where we got is really tremendous; I think we can be proud," he said.

"If at first, you don't succeed, you try again," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while watching from the control room near Tel Aviv.

The robotic spacecraft finally approached a final orbit at 15km (9 miles) from the surface of the earth after the spacecraft has undergone a journey to the Moon that took about seven weeks.

The Beresheet spacecraft is a $100 million spacecraft that was designed and developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and SpaceIL. The spacecraft lost communication with the ground control room in Israel during the landing sequence.

While the program supervisors that were monitoring the mission attempted to re-establish communications, the spacecraft also experienced some technical problems with the main engine.

During the period of a communications failure, the spacecraft was traveling at about 2,100 mph and was located at about 120km (about 74 miles) from the intended landing site. The spacecraft experience these technical problems in the final stage of its journey, moments before it was supposed to land.

About 9 years ago, SpaceIL was established to compete for the Google Lunar XPrize. This competition will provide $20 million to the first privately funded team to successfully launch a spacecraft to the moon transmit high-definition video and travel 500 meters in any direction. However, even though the XPrize competition was canceled in January 2018, the Israeli team decided to continue its mission to achieve a successful soft landing on the surface of the moon.

On February 21 2019, SpaceIL launched the Beresheet spacecraft on board a Falcon 9 rocket and it traveled about 4 million miles to the moon before falling into orbit around the moon. The spacecraft spent duration of about six weeks in earth’s orbit before finally slipping into the moon’s orbit on April 4. The spacecraft spent a period of about one week in the moon’s orbit before crashing when it attempted a soft landing on the surface of the moon on April 11.

All is not lost as prior to Israels moon mission on October 3rd 2018, NASA signed an agreement with the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofits SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission. The Israeli Space Agency (ISA) and SpaceIL announced that they will be working together on the analysis of the data collected from the mission. The Israeli Space Agency and SpaceIL intended to share data with NASA from the magnetometer installed in the spacecraft. This agreement was signed in Germany during the 69th International Astronautical Congress.


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