Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Science | By

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu promises state aid to second moon mission

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu promises state aid to second moon mission

The aim of the mission was to take pictures and conduct experiments. Israel was hoping for a soft landing, achieved so far only by the Americans, Soviets and Chinese.

The main Sponsor and Chairman of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, said: "in view of the large global support that I have received for this project, I decided for a new project: Beresheet 2". "It's been an fantastic journey, I hope we get a chance for another one". Israeli state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI). also took part in its development, which continued even after the competition ended with no timely victor.

"I've seen hundreds of kids look at the spacecraft and you see in their eyes that they say, "Wow, if a small country can do this maybe little old me can do nearly anything", said Opher Doron, general manager of IAI's space division.

"We definitely crashed on surface of moon", said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries.

"It was a bittersweet moment", said Adams, hours after hearing that Beresheet's engine failed to slow the craft on descent.

The spacecraft was developed in response to the Google Lunar X Prize competition that finished a year ago, without a victor. The mission was over. It was built by state-owned IAI and Israeli non-profit space venture SpaceIL with Dollars 100 million funded nearly entirely by private donors.

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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.

For the past two months, Beresheet, which means "Genesis" or "In the Beginning", traveled around the Earth several times before entering lunar orbit.

Instead of sitting alone on a rocket that would put it on the ideal trajectory to the Moon, it blasted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket along with a communications satellite and an experimental aircraft.

A controlled landing on the lunar surface was the major challenge for the Israeli spacecraft.

Westcott adds that their engine looks to have performed nominally. Radio signals from the spacecraft flat-lined as the scheduled touchdown time came and went, leading engineers to assume that the small spacecraft was scattered in pieces after slamming into the landing site.

"It appears that a glitch, perhaps with a sensor, may have caused the on-board computer to erroneously shut down the main engine", Robert Westcott, a senior propulsion engineer at Nammo Westcott, told BBC. The process is expected to take between 2-3 years. All of the controls for this were uploaded and performed autonomously with mission control watching on. This would help "work out how the magnetic measurements of the Moon fit in with the geology and geography of the Moon, which is really important to understand how the Moon formed".

Doron nonetheless called the mission an "amazing success", for reaching the moon and coming so close to landing successfully.

Temperatures on the Moon are extreme, and as the Sun rose the spacecraft would have been unlikely to survive the heat. Nasa followed this by getting the first humans to the Moon in 1969.

India hopes to become the next lunar country in the spring with its Chandrayaan-2 mission.

"It is by far the smallest, cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon", he said.

If their landing had worked, Israel would have been the latest nation to join this elite club.

The data will be shared with United States space agency NASA.

Beresheet was not alone in pursuing low-priced lunar exploration.

Beresheet would have been the first craft to land on the moon that was not the product of a government programme. But inspired by the perseverance of SpaceIL, the XPrize Foundation announced it would offer the team $1 million if its landing is stuck by Beresheet.

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