The Israeli lunar mission may not have been a complete success, but it managed to return a big selfie before the lander crashes. Beresheet was a privately funded mission to reiterate what the United States, the former Soviet Union and China have all done: land a craft on the surface of the moon, safely.
One of its aims was to do it with a relatively small budget compared to its predecessors. SpaceIL took advantage of the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in mid-February to launch into space. He then began a complex process of gaining speed to reach the moon.
Generally, a mission on the moon would rely on a rocket to take the spaceship along the way. Because SpaceIL could not count on that, however, he opted for a more complex route. By exploiting the gravity of the Earth, she could move efficiently to reach the Moon.
It was a tedious process – taking weeks rather than days – but profitable. Indeed, SpaceIL claims to have spent about $ 100 million, a fraction of the usual cost, to install its lander. The goal was to touch the surface of the moon safely. Beresheet shared this picture of the moon as she began her descent.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. While descending, Beresheet – which means "early" in Hebrew – has lost its connection with the command center in Israel.
"The preliminary technical information gathered by the teams shows that the first technical problem occurred 14 km above the moon," said SpaceIL. "At 150 meters, when the connection with Beresheet was lost, it was moving at 500 km / h, making a collision inevitable."
As for what went wrong, the investigation is still going on. However, there is currently a suspicion that a problem in one of the engine management systems has caused the engine to shut down prematurely. "Our engineers believe that a technical problem in one of the components has led to the shutdown of the main engine, making it impossible to slow the descent of the spacecraft," says the Beresheet team. "By the time the engine was restarted, its speed was too high to land properly."
Too late to save the LG, but not too late to return an epic selfie. The photo shows Beresheet heading to the moon's surface, with its glittering golden legs and its matching golden flag unfolded. "Small country, big dreams," proclaims the flag.
Despite the less than ideal conclusion, the SpaceIL mission sets some new records. This makes Israel the seventh country to orbit the moon and the first mission funded by private funds to reach a lunar orbit.