Israel’s first privately funded mission to the moon crashed on the lunar surface just minutes before touchdown after the apparent failure of its main engine, BBC reported. The aim of the spacecraft, called Beresheet, was to take pictures and conduct experiments.
The spacecraft had several technical problems during its final descent to the Moon’s surface. Its soft landing was unsuccessful after it lost communication with its ground control, the support team said.
“We definitely crashed on the surface of the moon,” said Opher Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries, according to AP. The spacecraft was scattered in pieces across the landing site, he added.
Doron, however, called the mission an amazing success. “It is by far the smallest, cheapest spacecraft ever to get to the moon,” he said.
Beresheet, which means Genesis, was about the size of a washing machine and built by non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. For the last two months, it travelled around the Earth several times before entering lunar orbit. The spacecraft crashed near the historic Apollo landing sites.
“We will try again,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “We reached the moon, but we want to land more comfortably, and that is for the next time.”
The Beresheet project cost Israel about $100 million (nearly Rs 691 crore).
While China and Russia have successfully landed unmanned missions on the moon, the United States has landed manned mission.