The Israeli spacecraft, Beresheet’s attempt at landing on the lunar surface ended in a crash on 11th April 2019. The team behind the mission is trying to determine what went wrong.
SpaceIL, the company behind the first ever privately funded lunar mission, gave a statement that a chain of technical events led to the Beresheet’s engine failure, which eventually ended up crashing into the moon’s surface. The statement does not expand upon the specifics of the technical issues, however during the live stream which documented the landing suggested a problem with the spacecraft’s ‘inertial measurement unit’. The team managed to get the system back online after the initial failure, however, “by that time, its velocity was too high to slow down and the landing could not be completed as planned.” The statement read. Communication was completely lost between the spacecraft and the team monitoring it.
SpaceIL said they will be carrying out comprehensive testing the following week to determine what exactly went wrong. The mission may have failed, however the attempt has received widespread praise. Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s Administrator said through a statement, “Every attempt to reach new milestones holds opportunities for us to learn, adjust and progress. I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements.”
The failed landing, however, invites caution and a considerable level of challenge to companies aiming for similar goals. So far, Lockheed Martin, one of the companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, holds extensive skill and experience as far as space lander missions are concerned. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science said in reference to the SpaceIL mission, “Space is hard, but worth the risks. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, the newly re-elected prime minister of Israel earlier hinted that another attempt funded by the Israeli government may take place in the near future.