Israel's first lunar mission has failed, crashing into the moon

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"We definitely crashed on surface of moon", said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries. He vowed to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon "intact" in the next two years.

One of the last photos taken by Beresheet of the moon's surface before it crashed. "We have a failure of the spacecraft ... we have not landed successfully", SpaceIL said in the livestream.

Israel would have become the fourth nation to land on the moon, following the U.S., Russian Federation and China, if the landing by the "Beresheet" spacecraft was successful.

Although it didn't complete its mission, Israel become the seventh country to have a spacecraft orbit the moon and first to do it with a privately-financed program.

An engine failure is suspected to be the cause of the crash. Of those nine companies, only one, Lockheed Martin, has extensive experience in developing lander missions, although a second company, Draper, has heritage dating back to the Apollo lunar landers. And I think for us this is the beginning. "And that caused an unfortunate chain of events we're not sure about", he said. To date, only Russian Federation, the United States, and China have managed to perform controlled "soft" landings on the lunar surface.

After a journey of 4.5 million km (2.8 million miles), Israel's Beresheet spacecraft came within 150 meters of the lunar surface before malfunctioning and crashing.

Built and launched on a shoestring budget of just under $100 million, Beresheet had little financial wiggle room to incorporate failsafe mechanisms aboard the craft, and SpaceIL was unable to conduct a full suite of preflight tests.

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.

"SpaceIL's mission not only touched the Moon, it touched the lives and hearts of an entire world that was watching", said XPRIZE founder Peter Diamandis.

Beresheet ended up covering about 4 million miles (6.5 million kilometers) during this phase of the mission, team members said.

The president's direction from Space Policy Directive-1 galvanizes NASA's return to the Moon and builds on progress on the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, collaborations with U.S industry and worldwide partners, and knowledge gained from current robotic assets at the Moon and Mars.

Kahn told Business Insider before Beresheet's launch that there was "no guarantee" the mission would succeed.

Some Twitter users took to the internet to make jokes about Israel's attempts to annex the moon, in reference to their illegal occupation of Palestine.

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