Monday, 22 April, 2019

Israeli spacecraft falls short in attempt to reach moon

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Andrew Wong | 12 April, 2019, 06:02

Beresheet marks the first time the Israelis have attempted to land a craft on the surface of the Moon.

"Well, we didn't make it, but we definitely tried", said Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, the nonprofit behind Beresheet, during a livestreamed press conference. "It's been an wonderful journey, I hope we get a chance for another one".

The spacecraft lost communication with ground control and powered off during its final descent. It has spent 47 days, gradually making ever-widening elliptical orbits around the Earth until it was "captured" by the moon's gravitational pull and looped closer to its surface.

"If it at first you don't succeed, you try and try again - and we'll try again", said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the control center. "That will be for the next attempt".

Beresheet, which is Hebrew for "in the beginning", was a joint project between SpaceIL, a privately funded Israeli non-profit organisation, and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Khan, a philanthropist and chairman of SpaceIL, put up $40 million of the project´s $100 million budget.

Netanyahu for his part predicted an moon landing within three years.

"I made it clear to Gabbay that in light of the devastating election outcome, he must take responsibility and resign immediately from the position of chairman of the Labor party", Hermoni says in a message sent to party members.

"It has national implications for Israel and implications for humanity".

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President Reuven Rivlin hosted dozens of youngsters at his official residence, one of several celebrations scheduled across the country. "It's when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness".

Although the journey is 384,000 kilometres, Beresheet will have travelled a total of 6.5 million kilometres due to a series of orbits. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the US on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch. "Starting from about 25 kilometers [15.5 miles] and traveling at a speed of 1,700 meters per second, we're going to reduce the height".

He said, 'Lunar magnetism has been an enigma for decades.

The landing has been a long time coming, with SpaceIL originally being a participant in the Google Lunar XPrize competition which ended unceremoniously after none of the competitors could deliver a landing-capable spacecraft within the extended deadline date.

Although the Google prize expired in March without a victor, Israel's team pledged to push forward. "This is the first mission of a small country to the moon", and a non-governmental effort at that, SpaceIL Chief Executive Officer Ido Anteby told reporters near Tel Aviv. After the fate of the spacecraft became clear, Rivlin said, "Thanks to all the people who brought the Israeli spacecraft to the moon".

Only the US, China, and Russian Federation have successfully landed on the Moon.

The mission has cost about US$100m ($149 million) and has paved the way for future low-priced lunar exploration.

Beresheet is equipped with six 8 megapixel high resolution cameras, and five of them are arranged so that they can create a panorama of the lunar surface while the sixth camera is pointed at the aforementioned Israeli flag plaque.

Japan plans to send a small lunar lander, called SLIM, to study a volcanic area around 2020-2021.

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