TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashed during an attempt to land on the Moon on Thursday, the mission command announced in live broadcast.
On 5 April, the Beresheet (“Genesis” or “Origin” in Hebrew) spacecraft successfully locked into lunar orbit, completing the manoeuvres needed for a flight to Earth’s only natural satellite. Beresheet, which is the size of a washing machine and weighs about 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), was expected to bounce about 500 metres along the moon’s surface, taking panoramic photos and measuring the body’s magnetic field.
According to reports citing Mission Command, Beresheet first lost touch with Earth and then crashed during its attempted moon landing.
“Unfortunately, we failed to land the craft,” one of the commanders of the mission said during the live broadcast.
Reuters reports that Beresheet reached the moon on Thursday but its planned controlled, or “soft”, landing was unsuccessful. The spacecraft had a number of technical problems during its final descent to the lunar surface, the command team said, as cited by the outlet.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to repeat the attempt to land on the Moon in two or three years after the Beresheet spacecraft’s crash.
“The Israeli spacecraft will land on the Moon in one piece. Two and a half to three years from now. Write it down,” Netanyahu said, addressing the mission team after the failure.
A successful touchdown would have made Beresheet not only the first private spacecraft to carry out a Moon landing, but would also have made Israel only the fourth nation on Earth to reach the surface of the Earth’s natural satellite after the Soviet Union, the United States and China.