Beresheet, an Israeli privately funded spacecraft failed to make a successful landing on the surface of the moon in the first attempt today which could have made it the first-ever privately funded mission to land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. Israel became the seventh country to enter the orbit of the moon.
SpaceIL, an Israeli organization a former team in the Google Lunar X Prize competition developed the Beresheet spacecraft which was launched on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 21st 2019. Beresheet was deployed in the wide orbit around Earth and pediodically the lander burned its main engine in space, expanding its orbit out farther and father to reach the Moon.
Last week, the lander burned its engine again close to the moon’s surface, slowing down enough to enter the Moon’s orbit.
The landing process was started at around 3:05 PM ET (12:35 AM IST). The spacecraft will fire its main engine again, reducing its speed down from 3,700 miles per hour to zero. At around 16 feet or so above the surface, Beresheet’s engine will shut off, and it will free-fall to the surface. The touchdown is slated for around 3:25 PM ET (12:55 AM IST).
After landing the spacecraft will take images and video of the surface and study the magnetic field of its landing location, a region known as Mare Serenitatis, or the Sea of Serenity.
Israel would have become the fourth nation in the world after the United States, Russia, and China to land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface and the first-ever privately funded project to land on the surface of the moon.