Israel plans new moonshot after maiden mission fails

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But at 150 meters (492 feet) from the surface, all connection between SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries command center in the central Israeli city of Yehud and the spacecraft was lost completely as it moved vertically at 500 km/h (310.7 miles) and inevitably crashed.

A failure would have attracted the mission to an abrupt end. Beresheet was about the size of a washing machine.

Beresheet was not just a scientific project, it was much more than that. The organisation aimed to win in the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize by becoming the first private robotic craft to set down on the moon, but unfortunately the deadline passed previous year and it had to push on even without the monetary incentive.

Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the two main partners, describe the project as the "world's first spacecraft built in a non-governmental mission", with philanthropist Morris Kahn putting up $40 million of the $100 million budget.

The team behind the Israeli spacecraft that crashed into the moon moments before touchdown was working Friday to try and piece together what derailed the ambitious mission, which sought to make history as the first privately funded lunar landing. With its entry into orbit around the moon, Israel becomes the seventh country to do so. It blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch.

Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing, engine firings slowed Beresheet's descent.

The craft also carries a "time capsule" loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

"We had a failure in the spacecraft", said a SpaceIL representative at the time.

The contest ended in March 2018 with no victor.

"The second I heard their dream, I wanted to support it", said Kahn. This resemblance to the moon will continue and will accompany us, also, all the way to the moon.

Aldrin, an Apollo astronaut who together with Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, sent his condolences to the SpaceIL team "for what nearly was", adding: "Never lose hope. Never lose hope - your hard work, teamwork, and innovation is inspiring to all!" he wrote on Twitter.

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