Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft reaches moon, but landing unsuccessful

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The Beresheet doesn't have backup systems so any major failure would have doomed the mission, but so far the craft has been functioning. "It's a tremendous achievement up 'til now".

"We've landed, but not in the way we wanted to", a commentator in formed a crowd of onlookers including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed on the Moon. "We need to praise what we accomplished".

Beresheet snapped this selfie moments before communication with the spacecraft was lost.

The project was originally intended as a contended in the now defunct Google Lunar X Prize and is estimated to have cost, in space flight terms, a modest $95million. It weighed 585 kg (1290 lbs.) when it was launched, but much of that was fuel, and its descent weight was about 150 kg (330 lbs.) when it approacehd the lunar surface. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the USA on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch.

The final manoeuvre brought the spacecraft into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, just 15 to 17 kilometres from the surface at its closest.

The landing legs have crushable aluminum honeycomb structures as well as stainless steel deformable structures that both are meant to absorb the energy of the landing, and they were extensively tested at IAI along with the rest of the spacecraft.

The probe was expected to land within Mare Serenitatis in the Moon's northern hemisphere.

Beresheet separated from the second stage and was activated successfully, and started its seven-week journey to the Moon.

SpaceIL's live broadcast followed the tense maneuvers needed to get the lunar lander down to the Sea of Serenity on the near side of the moon. Two and a half to three years from now.

NASA has made its Deep Space Network available to transmit data and has installed a small laser retroreflector aboard the lander to test its potential as a navigation tool.

In addition to its science mission, Beresheet carried a time capsule to the Moon.

The main goals, SpaceIL and IAI representatives have said, involved advancing Israel's space program, increasing the nation's technological knowhow and getting young people more interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

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