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Israels Beresheet spacecraft is lost during historic lunar landing attempt

Israels SpaceIL almost made history today as its Beresheet spacecraft came within an ace of landing on the surface of the Moon, but suffered a last-minute failure during descent. Israel missed out on the chance to be the fourth country to make a controlled lunar landing, but getting 99 percent of the way there is still an extraordinary achievement for private spaceflight.
Beresheet (Genesis) launched in February as secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, and after a month and a half spiraling outward, entered lunar orbit a week ago. Todays final maneuver was an engine burn meant to bring down its relative velocity to the Moon, then brake to a soft landing in the Mare Serenitatis, or Sea of Serenity.
Everything was working fine up until the final moments, as is often the case in space. The craft, having made it perfectly to its intended point of descent, determined that all systems were ready and the landing process would go ahead as planned.
They lost telemetry for a bit, and had to reset the craft to get the main engine back online and then communication dropped while only a handful of kilometers from the surface. The selfie image above was taken from 22 km above the surface, just a few minutes before that. The spacecraft was announced as lost shortly afterwards.
Clearly disappointed but also exhilarated, the team quickly recovered its composure, saying the achievement of getting to where we got is tremendous and we can be proud, and of course, if at first you dont succeed try, try again.
Israels Beresheet spacecraft is lost during historic lunar landing attempt

The project began as an attempt to claim the Google Lunar Xprize, announced more than a decade ago, but which proved too difficult for teams to attempt in the time frame specified. Although the challenge and its prize money lapsed, Israels SpaceIL team continued its work, bolstered by the support of Israel Aerospace Industries, the state-owned aviation concern there.
Its worth noting that although Beresheet did enjoy considerable government support in this way, its a far cry from any other large-scale government-run mission, and can safely be considered private for all intents and purposes. The ~50-person team and $200 million budget are laughably small compared to practically any serious mission, let alone a lunar landing.
I spoke with Xprizes founder and CEO, Peter Diamandis and Anousheh Ansari, respectively, just before the landing attempt. Both were extremely excited and made it clear that the mission was already considered a huge success.

Historic first private mission to the Moon launches Thursday night
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