Beresheet Crashed Due to Errand Command Sent to Fix Problem

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel, April 17, 2019 (SpaceIL PR) — According to preliminary investigation of the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet’s landing manuever, it appears that a manual command was entered into the spacecraft’s computer. This led to a chain reaction in the spacecraft, during which the main engine switched off, which prevent it from activating further.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) teams continue to investigate further, in order to understand the full picture of what occurred during the mission. In the coming weeks, final results of the investigation will be released.

SpaceIL President Mr. Morris Kahn said: “I am proud of SpaceIL’s team of engineers for their wonderful work and dedication, and such cases are an integral part of such a complex and pioneering project. What is important now is to learn the best possible lessons from our mistakes and bravely continue forward. That’s the message we’d like to convey to the people in Israel and the entire Jewish world. This is the spirit of the Beresheet project.”

Editor’s Note: The Jerusalem Post reports the command that was sent was intended to solve a problem that developed during descent:

A command intended to correct a malfunction in one of the Beresheet spacecraft’s inertial measurement unit (IMUs) led to a chain of events which turned off its main engine during landing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted by SpaceIL….

“There was no incident like this since the mission began,” Anteby told reporters. “After it occurred, an activation command was sent to [the IMU], causing a chain of events in which the main engine stopped and was unable to return to continuous operation.”

While the spacecraft attempted to restart its engine several times, the attempts proved unsuccessful.

  • 76 er

    So an errant command was sent to the spacecraft, but it begs the question of why the IMU glitched during the descent in the first place.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Most likely the IMU got zap by Cosmic background radiation. It appears the software in the Beresheet wasn’t robust enough to handle the glitch without causing cascading events. In other words not enough budget for spacecraft development and redundancy.

  • 76 er

    Yeah, one can’t brag about how little a mission cost (in comparison to others) if that same budget constraint comes back to bite one in the butt.

  • publiusr

    This is why the Voyagers have held up so well. They weren’t as clunky as Apolo tech–but not as overly sensitive as modern chip tech.

    Mid-70’s NORAD level solid state tech is what you want.