4 Things You Need To Know About The Israeli Moon Crash [Infographic]

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A few days ago an Israeli company called Space IL attempted to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon. The landing was not successful and it’s assumed to have been destroyed in the crash. Since this story has been in the news the past few days I thought I would boil down all the information to a few basic points.

1. Who is Space IL?

Space IL is a non-profit Israeli company that got its start in 2011 with the purpose of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. It was founded by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub. The goal actually came from an international challenge called the XPRIZE that offered a large prize to anyone that could build an unmanned Moon Lander. During this contest Space IL made it to the five finalists but sadly Google pulled their sponsorship and the competition ended with no winner.

Space IL decided to continue their journey regardless of the contest and in February of this year, they were able to launch their craft into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

2. The Mission

Landing an unmanned craft on the Moon is difficult even with today’s technology. The craft, named Beresheet, launched on Feb 22, 2019, from Cape Canaveral in the USA. The craft was released from the Falcon 9 rocket and began making elliptical orbits around Earth. Each orbit helped the craft gain altitude until it reached 248,548 miles which is high enough to reach the Moon. At this point, the gravity of the Moon captured the craft and a new orbit was established. From there the craft made a few lunar orbits before beginning the process of landing.

The craft launched in February and got to the Moon in early April.

Kander10 Designs

3. What went wrong?

The first technical issue occurring about 8.5 miles above the surface of the Moon. Moments after sending a picture of itself back to Earth a problem was noticed. It became apparent that there was something wrong with the main engine and they would have to restart it. The ground team was able to restart the engine and got it back online but shortly after that, they lost all communication with the craft. Meaning that it had most likely crashed into the Moon. Final telemetry was at 3:25 pm Eastern time and has the craft at an altitude of 492 ft from the surface and traveling at 300 mph.

The Beresheet descended toward the moon it had to greatly reduce its speed from 3728 mph to zero.

Kander10 Designs

The ground team is still investigating the details.

4. Recognition

The mission ended in a crash but in my opinion, should not be considered a failure. The surface of the Moon is much rockier than most people think and landing a craft safely is actually more difficult than landing on Mars. Had they been successful Space IL’s Beresheet would have been the first private spacecraft to make a controlled landing on the lunar surface. Even with the failed landing, Israel is still the seventh country to orbit the Moon and the fourth to reach the surface. That is no small feat and the Space IL crew should still be very proud of their accomplishments.

To learn more about Space IL and the Beresheet spacecraft please visit their website.

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