SpaceIL’s Beresheet Spacecraft Crashes on Moon

A graphic showing Beresheet’s path to the Moon. Dates correspond with Israel Standard Time. (Credits: SpaceIL)

The first privately funded moon landing crashed onto the lunar surface on Thursday.

SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander got about 10 km above the moon when it began experiencing a problem with its engine. Communications were lost and then controllers announced that the spacecraft had crashed.

“If at first you don’t succeed, you try again,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined the SpaceIL team at the control center.

The $100 mission by the former Google Lunar X Prize team was largely unwritten by billionaire Morris Kahn with some funding assistance from the Israel Space Agency.

Israel was attempting to become the fourth nation to successfully land on the moon after the United States, Soviet Union and China.

Officials put a brave face on the failure, saying SpaceIL had been successful in placing the satellite into orbit around the moon before today’s unsuccessful landing attempt.

If the landing had succeeded, SpaceIL would have received a $1 million award XPRIZE Chairman Peter Diamandis. XPRIZE had run the Google Lunar X Prize, which was a $30 million competition to land a rover on the moon capable of traveling 500 meters across the surface.

Google canceled the competition in January 2018 after numerous extensions when it became clear that none of the remaining teams was close to winning the prize.

  • Jeff Smith

    Press F

  • Robert G. Oler

    it was an outstanding try…BRAVO ZULU

  • Paul_Scutts

    I feel for everyone who have invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this landing attempt. Time to re-group and try again. It just highlights the effort and skill of those in the US, China and especially the former Soviet Union (unmanned with 1960’s technology).

  • ThomasLMatula

    My condolences to the entire team. I hope they do try again. I wonder if NASA will use the LRO to search for the crash site.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, it makes Surveyor 1 all the more amazing.

  • delphinus100

    Damn. I was really rooting for that…

  • delphinus100

    After the pain that was the Ranger series, they *were* somewhat surprised to have made it work the first time…

  • Jacob Samorodin

    The spacecraft’s final velocity was 134 m/s (electronics and propellant plumbing would not survive) and final horizontal speed was over 900 m/s. The vertical impact speed of about 250mph is the most important when it comes to survivability of the small capsule containing a memory chip containing recollections of a holocaust survivor and some other small memorial items. Black boxes on crashed aircraft have survived faster vertical impact speeds. Granted, the 900+ m/s horizontal speed on impact would have torn and scattered the spacecraft’s propulsion system, structural frame and electronics over a stretch of a couple of kilometers at least. But, depending how and in what the Israeli Star-Of-David flag was stowed. It may have survived the impact. As a Jew I am proud that Israel may have a reasonably intact Star-of-David flag on the moon’s surface, lying between scattered metal debris. As a Jew I am also grateful that Israel beat the nation of Germany (the nation that gave us the Third Reich) into lunar orbit and onto the lunar surface.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    Disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. The mission was flown on shoestring and overcame technical issues. I’m amazed how far they came, getting to the lunar capture was no small feat.

  • Francesco Barato
  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Congrats to the team! They did a fine job of pioneering non-state aerospace. They got very very close, I’d call this a success in so many ways. I understand the disappointment of losing the craft, however by the time they lost it, so much had gone right, I’d call it a moral success.

  • gunsandrockets

    1st use of the lunar crasher-stage concept. ;-D

    I love those Apollo 12 photos of Surveyor.

  • duheagle

    Yes. As failures go, it was far more impressive than SpaceX’s first failed launch of Falcon 1.

  • A_J_Cook

    Please check the price of the mission. The text says $100. Should that read $100,000? $1,000,000?

  • Robert G. Oler

    dont worry Hitler is making a comeback with the GOP

  • ThomasLMatula

    It likely did which is great. I hope they try again soon. I also hope that Israel is invited by President Trump to be part of any base the U.S. builds on the Moon. This efforts shows they would have a lot to contribute to it.

  • Stu

    Yes, it’s important to still be harking back to WW2 and effectively comparing modern Germans to the Nazi party.

    If I look at all the bad stuff going on in the world, the Germans aren’t remotely on the radar.

  • Francesco Barato

    SpaceIL cost (100 2019 M$ )
    Surveyor 1 cost (469 1966 M$)
    the ’60… when money and extraordinary people were common…

  • duheagle

    LOL. You’ve got that backwards as usual. All the roving bands of brownshirts out there are flying the red and/or black flags. It isn’t the GOP talking up repealing most of the Constitution. I would think an American based in present-day Turkey would be able to see the difference between rhetorical and real fascism. But then there’s so much else you don’t seem able to see, I guess I should just extend that list a little.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    Or $100M – main article

  • therealdmt

    Oh well

  • redneck

    At $100.00, I would fund several efforts myself. 😃

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, but in terms of flags, Apollo 11 carried flags of 135 nations to the Moon, including the flag of Israel. When it returned the flags were given as gifts to those nations, along with 4 grams of lunar regolith. So technically, this is the second Israel flag to make it to the Moon.

  • Cameron

    That would be a redneck spacecraft for sure! 😉

  • redneck

    Aah gits mah rokits parts from Wahlmurt.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I am sorry… fascism is when the leader tells his subordinates “go ahead and break the laws and I will pardon you”

    Trump did that.

    you would think that someone who claims to be a patriot would try and actually be one

  • Robert G. Oler

    The current and probably future Israeli government are the new Nazis

  • Stu

    Well they certainly learned pretty well from them, that is for sure. The pure hypocrisy of Israel is certainly somewhat frustrating to watch.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Fascism these days seems to be whatever Democrats define it to be regardless of any historical reality. But then Democrats do seem focused on rewriting history to erase hide their past.

    In terms of Pardons by President Trump do you have any names to offer as examples to support your statement?

  • ThomasLMatula

    ROFLOL – especially given that it’s the president of your beloved Turkey that has praised Der Fuhrer as a role model for efficient government.

  • duheagle

    I thought the new Nazis were the GOP. Any other mythical new Nazis you’d like to add as long as you’re making a list?

  • duheagle

    In what way? You’ll have to pardon us real people who haven’t drunk any of the prog Kool-Aid anent Israel, but to us you just sound garden-variety bonkers.

  • duheagle

    Well, as all we patriots tried to tell you while Obama was busily destroying the rule of law in this country for eight years, you’d miss it when it was gone.

    In the particular context where that conversation allegedly took place it’s not at all obvious that what was being considered was even unlawful. If it actually is, you’ve got Obama to blame. He dumped thousands of illegals in Red State cities and towns and did it in the dead of night with no warning to local authorities they were coming. Seems a pity to whinge about Trump looking to return the “favor.”

  • duheagle

    Me too, Bubba. Ceptin’ fer the ones I gits from Harbor Freight.

  • Stu


  • Robert G. Oler

    the GOP of today and the Israeli government of today are similar in terms of how they treat others “not like them”…they are thugs

  • duheagle

    The American Left, on the other hand, are all hearts and flowers toward people not like them. Hence the random slander, libel and violence against people in MAGA hats and the not-so-random mobs showing up at the houses of people who’ve incurred their wrath, not to mention the attempts to blacklist people from future employment based on political differences.

    As for the Israelis, the so-called Palestinians are certainly not like them at all – being blood-mad theocratic tribal barbarians and all. Not really a lot of question as to whom the thugs in that part of the world are.

    As for being neo-Nazis, the real Nazis wiped out about half of Europe’s Jews in about three years. Israelis have been resisting “Palestinian” violence for over seven decades and there are a lot more “Palestinians” now than there were then. As “Nazis” go, the Israelis are notably inefficient.

  • duheagle

    “Prog Kool-Aid anent Israel” means progressive lies with respect to Israel. Like the laughable notion that Israel is a cruel occupier of the poor put-upon Palestinians who have done nothing for 70 years but ceaselessly attack Israel while also making time to attack an Arab state in the region that made the mistake of offering them a place to stay – that would be Jordan, by the way.

  • Stu

    If you say so. You have me totally convinced that Israel cares about anyone but itself and Jews. I don’t like any country that discriminates based on religion or ethnicity, frankly, and Israel is every bit as bad as any country in the region (most of whom are fairly bad).