Israeli spacecraft crashes onto moon after technical failures

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Beresheet is the smallest spacecraft ever to be sent to the moon. Not as we wanted, but they brought a spacecraft to the moon.

During the broadcast, control staff could be heard saying that engines meant to slow the craft's descent and allow a soft landing had failed and contact with it had been lost. Suspense gripped the control room.

The company behind the probe had planned to live stream the feat. The spacecraft even snapped a quick selfie with the lunar surface in the background at an altitude of around 22 kilometers. The craft crashed near the historic Apollo landing sites.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reassured the children gathered at his residence that, despite the ending, the mission was successful for Israel, calling it "a big and excellent achievement-that has not yet been accomplished". If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward. It was then launched on the back of a SpaceX rocket where it orbited the Earth over and over, using the planet's gravity to accelerate the craft and the rocket's propulsion system to steer it away from the atmosphere in short, controlled bursts. It orbited the moon, by itself a major accomplishment.

A time capsule was on board the lander - which included a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003 - as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the US-based Arch Mission Foundation.

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"I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements", he said.

Beresheet was originally intended for a much earlier launch, as an entry into the 2018 Google Lunar X Prize competition, a global race to send the first private spacecraft to the Moon.

Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended a year ago without a victor.

Nevertheless, SpaceIL's team of about 50 engineers and entrepreneurs persisted.

"This is what happens, this is space", said Morris Kahn.

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"I am seriously considering investing in a space programme", he said in the webcast. We knew it was a risky mission, and the risk we were taking to build it cheap and fast. But it wasn't the first time that a robotic moon landing failed in this way.

"No matter what actually happened, what SpaceIL is doing here achieves our whole vision".

"We're extraordinarily proud they made it this far", said Peter Diamandis, XPrize founder. "We'll try again." The idea to take "Israel to the moon" did not originate in a space laboratory but came up in a bar near Tel Aviv.

SpaceIL and IAI have indicated that should a problem arise, the spacecraft will re-enter its elliptical orbit around the moon and abort the landing process.

"What makes it hard is the conditions". Mission control lost communications with the spacecraft when it was about 489 feet (149 meters) above the moon's surface.

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