Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, which was set to land on the moon today, suffered an engine and communications failure, causing it to instead crash into the lunar surface. Details are still emerging about what exactly went wrong.
Within the last five minutes or so of the landing procedure, mission control reported temporarily losing telemetry data before regaining it again. Shortly after, the main engine shut off, but engineers managed to restart it. Then, they reported a communications failure, followed by a few tense minutes of waiting. Finally, they announced the loss of the spacecraft, bringing the mission to a undesired end.
The control room gave a round of applause nonetheless, recognizing the tremendous achievement they still accomplished. With the flight of Beresheet, Israel became the seventh nation to orbit the moon, and technically the fourth to land on its surface, though not in the way they had hoped for.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, was present in the control room for the event. He told those present, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.”
Though Beresheet made it to the moon after the 2018 deadline for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, which promised $20 million to the first company to soft-land on the moon and complete a series of small tasks, on March 28 this year, XPRIZE announced they would still offer a $1 million Moonshot Award if Beresheet could accomplish a soft landing alone.
However, following the crash landing today, XPRIZE announced it will still award the $1 million prize.
— Peter Diamandis (@PeterDiamandis) April 11, 2019
This story is still evolving, and we will continue to update this article with more information as it becomes available.