Friday, April 12, 2019

Beresheet crashes on the Moon

SETBACK: Israel's Beresheet Spacecraft Crashes Into Moon During Landing Attempt (Mike Wall, The Beresheet probe did manage to orbit the Moon and it did land on the Moon, but not successfully.

It was just under 150 meters above the lunar surface when problems began. There was trouble with the main engine. They lost contact with the probe shortly afterward. As far as I can find out, they never regained contact. Presumably the probe crashed and was destroyed.

You can see the recording of the broadcast in the video below. Things start to go wrong around 35 minutes in. In minute 36, there is an announcement that there is a problem with the main engine. They reset the spacecraft and the engine comes on again to applause. But another voice seems to protest that all is not yet well. An announcement comes at 37:19 that contact with the spacecraft has been lost. Then at 39:30 the announcement comes that the probe failed to land.

This was still a great achievement. Space travel is hard. It is impressive that the project got so close to full success on such a small budget. Let's hope that next time (and all indicators are that there will be a next time) they will achieve a soft landing.

Meanwhile, the Space X Prize is still awarding the project $1 million for reaching the surface of the moon.

Background here, with commentary on the name Beresheet, "In the beginning."

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