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17 April 2019, 11:59 | Dale Webster
Beresheet 2: Netanyahu backs new Israeli lunar mission after 1st smashed into moon
But at 150 meters (492 feet) from the surface, all connection between SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries command center in the central Israeli city of Yehud and the spacecraft was lost completely as it moved vertically at 500 km/h (310.7 miles) and inevitably crashed.
Beresheet was built by non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), however it crashed on its final descent and the mission was failed in Israel's first moonshot.
"If at first you don't succeed, try try again", said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was on hand for what organizers had expected to be a party.
He said the big challenge would be "the fact that the engine is going to have to be switched on and get very hot, then switched off for a short period of time when all that heat is remaining in its thermal mass, and then fired up again, very accurately and very precisely such that it slows the craft down and lands very softly on the surface on the Moon".
Beresheet was not just a scientific project, it was much more than that. Kahn said: "We have started it, and I hope that we will it also lead to the end".
The failure was a disappointing ending to a 6.5 million-kilometer (4 million-mile) lunar voyage, nearly unprecedented in length, that was created to conserve fuel and reduce price.
But the Beresheet mission, which launched on 22 February from Cape Canaveral in Florida, spent weeks reaching its destination.
"We didn't make it, but we definitely tried, and I think the achievement of getting to where we got is pretty tremendous", Morris Kahn, SpaceIL president and primary funder, said in a livestream video of the moon landing attempt.
Israel aims to become the fourth country to manage a controlled lunar landing.
Beresheet will land on a plain of lava, if all goes according to plan. It also had a time capsule that included a Bible, Israeli cultural symbols and a picture of famed Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the crash of the US space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended past year without a victor.
Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin expressed his regrets "for what nearly was" and tweeted: "Never lose hope-Your hard work, team work, and innovation is inspiring to all!"
SpaceIL pressed on with its dream, convinced the mission would help inspire Israel's next generation to study science and engineering.
"We haven't landed on the moon yet, but Israelis are not losers, they're winners".
Buzz Aldrin, a former astronaut and the second man on the moon as a member of the US Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, sent a heartfelt message to the team.
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