Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1555018292611463300
Fri, 2019-04-12 00:29

YEHUD, Israel: Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the
moon on Thursday after a series of technical failures during its
final descent, shattering hopes of a historic controlled landing on
the lunar surface.
The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and
communications failures during the landing sequence, which lasted
around 21 minutes, the support team said.
Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase ‘In the
beginning’, had traveled through space for seven weeks in a
series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the
moon’s gravity last week.
The final maneuver on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical
orbit around the moon, around 15 km (9 miles) from the surface at
its closest. From there it was a short, nail-biting and ultimately
disappointing conclusion.
“It seems that a failure in our inertial measurements unit caused
a chain of events in the spacecraft avionics which cut off the
engines and caused us to lose the mission,” said Opher Doron,
general manager of the space division at Israel Aerospace
Industries (IAI).
So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a
“soft,” or controlled, landing on the lunar surface: the United
States, the Soviet Union and China.
Beresheet would have been the first craft to land on the moon that
was not the product of a government program. It was built by
state-owned IAI and Israeli non-profit space venture SpaceIL with
$100 million funded almost entirely by private donors.
Still, the spacecraft achieved some milestones.
“It is by far the smallest, the cheapest spacecraft ever to get
to the moon,” said Doron. “It’s been an amazing journey, I
hope we get a chance for another one.”
Shaped like a round table with four carbon-fiber legs, Beresheet
stood about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall. It blasted off from
Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
and entered Earth’s orbit about 34 minutes after launch.
Its circuitous flight path was around 4 million miles (6.5 million
km). A direct route from the Earth to the moon covers roughly
240,000 miles (386,000 km).

 

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Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures