“Small country, big dreams,” the engraving on the spacecraft’s body read, but those dreams weren’t destined to come true.
Beresheet’s engine stopped working around 10 kilometers from the surface, with the vehicle crashing into the Moon at a speed of over 130 meters per second.
It looks like the #beresheet lander (the first private lander trying to land on the moon) hit the surface going 134 m/s (wayyyyyy too fast) after its main engine cut out around 10 km in altitude 😩 pic.twitter.com/4cOlez7Fby
— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) April 11, 2019
The blunder occurred on a live feed in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, who arrived at the control center for the occasion.
— Elad Ratson 🇮🇱 (@EladRatson) April 11, 2019
However, the space explorers didn’t seem shaken by the setback as they all chanted a solemn song to show that getting so close to the goal was an achievement in itself.
Netanyahu has already promised that an Israeli spacecraft will be back to the Moon in the next two or three years.
— Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) April 11, 2019
Beresheet, which is Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning,” could have also become the first private spacecraft to land on the Moon. It was constructed by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries. The $100 million needed for the ambitious project came from private investors.
Only Russia, the US, and China have so far managed to perform controlled “soft” landings on the lunar surface.