Israel attempting to achieve a space milestone today, landing a spacecraft on the surface of the moon today at around 4:00pm ET. Unfortunately, the mission failed as a rocket on the lander encountered a technical failure in its approach to the Moon’s surface.
Israel had hoped to become a member of a select group of nations. Only three countries – the U.S., the Russia, and China – have made successful ‘soft landings’ on the lunar surface.
The Israeli “Beresheet” spacecraft was launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 on February 21 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 21. In its time in space, it’s taken stunning images of and around the moon, including one of the surface shortly snapped before the technical error occurred.
Reaction to the spacecraft failure was swift and somber. “We have a failure of the spacecraft,” said Opher Doron, the General Manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division, which collaborated on building the spacecraft. “Well we didn’t make it, but we definitely tried,” said Morris Kahn, an Israeli telecommunications entrepreneur and president of SpaceIL, the nonprofit that undertook the mission. “I think we can be proud.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , who attended the event at the mission’s command center in Yehud, Israel, said, “If at first you don’t succeed, you try again.”