Mission failed: Israeli spacecraft crashes before landing on moon

Mission failed: Israeli spacecraft crashes before landing on moon
2 min read
12 April, 2019
Israel's attempt to land on the moon failed following an engine failure in the spacecraft.
We are on the moon but not in the way we wanted [Getty]

Israel's attempt at a moon landing failed at the last minute on Thursday following an engine failure in the spacecraft.

"We didn't make it, but we definitely tried," project originator and major backer Morris Kahn said in a live videocast from mission control near Tel Aviv.

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

Control staff could be heard during the recording saying that engines designated to slow the craft's descent on the moon and allow a soft landing had failed and contact with it had been lost.

"We are on the moon but not in the way we wanted," one staffer said.

"We are the seventh country to orbit the moon and the fourth to reach the moon's surface," said another.

Only Russia, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed safely on the natural satellite.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had been in the control room watching the spacecraft’s would-be landing.

"If at first you don't succeed, you try again," Netanyahu said.

"We reached the moon but we'd like to land more comfortably," he added, hoping that the team will be successful in the “next attempt."

Israel announced the plan in summer last year, with hopes of staking Israel's claim among the high-tech elite.

A successful operation would have made it only the fourth country to ever complete a moon mission.

The unmanned spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) at launch, is named Beresheet, which means "Genesis" in Hebrew.

Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have described it as the "world's first spacecraft built in a non-governmental mission".

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