Challenging Ourselves to Create the Next Generation of Lunar Explorers

Moon (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Space exploration brings humanity some of its greatest challenges and opportunities. We faced this hard fact on April 11 when the Beresheet spacecraft developed by Israel’s SpaceIL failed to successfully land on the Moon’s surface. While the Beresheet spacecraft can claim many accomplishments, including being the first privately funded lunar spacecraft, we can learn many things from its failures. These are lessons we, too, must consider as NASA tries to conquer similar challenges as we move forward to the Moon with commercial and international partners.

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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.

XPRIZE Gives $1 Million Award to SpaceIL

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel (XPRIZE PR) — XPRIZE will recognize SpaceIL’s achievement with a $1 million Moonshot Award for its successful entry into lunar orbit and for its attempt to land on the lunar surface – both of which are “firsts” for a privately-funded entity, marking a new era in space exploration.

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Bersheet Hit Moon at 500 Km/h After Engine Failure

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

YEHUD, Israel, April 12, 2019 (SpaceIL PR) — Preliminary data supplied by the engineering teams of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IA) suggests a technical glitch in one of Beresheet’s components triggered the chain of events yesterday that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction. Without the main engine working prop3erly, it was impossible to stop Beresheet’s velocity. Beresheet overcame the issue by restarting the engine. However, by that time, its velocity was too high to slow down and the landing could not be completed as planned.

Preliminary technical information collected by the teams shows that the first technical issue occurred at 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) above the moon. At 150 meters (492 feet) from the ground, when the connection with the spacecraft was lost completely, Beresheet was moving vertically at 500 km/h (310.7 miles) to the inevitable collision with the lunar surface. Comprehensive tests will be held next week to gain a better understanding of the events.

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.

XPRIZE Offers $1 Million Moonshot Award for Lunar Landing

Beresheet lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

LOS ANGELES, March 28, 2019 (XPRIZE PR) —XPRIZE, the global leader in designing and operating world-changing incentive competitions, announces that it will offer a $1 million Moonshot Award in recognition of an XPRIZE team demonstrating the achievement of a “moonshot” technological feat outside the parameters or timeframe of an XPRIZE competition.

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The Arch Mission Foundation Announces Launch of Lunar Library Aboard Beresheet Lander

Credit: Arch Mission Foundation

LOS ANGELES (Arch Mission Foundation PR) — The Arch Mission Foundation today announced the launch of the first installment of their Lunar Library™, a 30 million page archive of civilization, created as a backup to planet Earth. The library will be delivered to the Moon as part of SpaceIL’s lunar mission, which was launched on Thursday, February 21st aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Lunar Library is being built across a series of missions to deliver extremely long-duration time-capsules containing a curated collection of public and private libraries and other archives to the Moon. The Library will be regularly updated with additional installments to various destinations around the surface of the Moon with the help of lunar landings by a variety of commercial entities, non-profit organizations, and governments.

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NASA is Aboard First Private Moon Landing Attempt

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


By Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The last screw is tightened and a private Moon lander is packed in the fairing atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It took eight years to get there, plus significant dedication by a small group of scientists and engineers building Israel’s first machine to leave Earth’s orbit. Now, the highly anticipated moment is here: a shot at the first private Moon landing, and NASA is contributing to the experiment.

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Beresheet on its Way to the Moon

The Falcon 9 launched as scheduled on Thursday, delivering a communications satellite to geosynchronous orbit and sending SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar lander to the moon. The landing is scheduled for April 11.

Spaceflight to Launch First Privately Funded Lunar Lander

Lunar lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

In partnership with SSL, Spaceflight will send its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb. 11, 2019 (Spaceflight PR) – Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch two payloads on its first rideshare mission to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The mission is scheduled for no earlier than mid-February 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 launching from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

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