Israel's Beresheet spaceship CRASHES on Moon - DISASTER for Israel Space Agency

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Asked in December whether the project had so far gone as planned, SpaceIL co-founder Yariv Bash said "hell no".

Minutes before the craft was due to land, its main engine shut down and communication with the spacecraft was lost.

A NASA navigation device on Beresheet provided lunar surface location details that can be used by future landers for navigation.

It is an awesome achievement to have gotten this far.

Netanyahu also predicted that Israel would land a ship successfully in two or three years.

"We will try again", Netanyahu said. "An Israeli lander will land on the moon".

During the broadcast, control staff could be heard saying that engines meant to slow the craft's descent and allow a soft landing had failed and contact with it had been lost.

As Live Science sister site reports, Luna 7 and Luna 8 also crashed into the moon during failed landings in 1965, and the US intentionally crashed two Ranger probes into the moon that same year. By the time connectivity was restored, the spacecraft was moving too quickly to be fully braked before impacting the lunar surface. Radio signals from the spacecraft, the size of a washing machine, abruptly cut off, and nervous chatter erupted in the control room.

The team who built Beresheet designed it as an autonomous landing craft - a lofty achievement in and of itself.

Meanwhile, President Reuven Rivlin soothed the children who were invited to his residence to hopefully watch a successful landing. "And we really are making this dream come true".

While crewed lunar trips have taken around three days, the probe took a much more circuitous route for its four million-mile (6.5m km) journey.

The spacecraft hitched a ride on a SpaceX Falcon rocket launched from Florida in February.

Beresheet images the Moon from 22 kilometers The Beresheet lander returned this photo of the Moon from an altitude of 22 kilometers before landing failure on 11 April 2019.

"Beresheet came the closest Israel ever has to land on the moon, but unfortunately the landing was not completed successfully".

Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended past year without a victor.

The SpaceIL nonprofit group was able to keep going even as other teams began to drop out of the competition, and as the original deadline to win the X-Prize was extended. "That's all we know".

"No matter what actually happened, what SpaceIL is doing here achieves our whole vision". "I think we can be proud".

He added: "What we've done with the project is use space technology that already existed in Israel, but we took it to the next level".

It is expected to land in the Sea of Serenity, on the northern hemisphere of the moon's near side, and if successful will measure the magnetic field at the landing site, and send back data and pictures.