Beresheet, the unlikely lander built with donations to a non-profit group, crashed into the Moon. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a historic accomplishment in its own way. Now SpaceIL, the non-profit behind Beresheet, wants to send another lander to the Moon.
The Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon last week, on its final descent. It experienced a communications failure and an engine failure. The spacecraft’s rate of descent was too fast and nothing could be done.
Morris Kahn, Israeli billionaire entrepreneur and founder of SpaceIL, announced on April 13th that the team behind Beresheet is going to try again. They’re going to build a new Beresheet lander and use this failure as a building block.
The Beresheet lander started as an entry to the Google Lunar XPRIZE, though the contest wrapped up before there was winner. Beresheet, however, was a finalist in the contest. At a cost of $200 million, it was one of the cheapest lunar landings ever attempted.
Eventually, Israel Aerospace Industries, the government agency, got involved to help the lander mission continue. The lander was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 on February 22nd and took about six weeks to travel to the Moon. The spacecraft entered lunar orbit, and performed its final maneuver, which was an engine burn to slow the spacecraft’s descent. Shortly after that, it took a selfie with the Moon, and everybody was excited.
The Beresheet lander grabbed his selfie with the Moon in the background from about 22km above the surface. Image Credit: SpaceIL
Sadly, the mission failed. But it looks like SpaceIL is undeterred and will be sending another lander to the mission. No details on a timeline have been released yet.
So far, only the USA, China, and Russia (Soviet Union) have achieved soft landings on the surface of the Moon. If Beresheet had survived its descent and made it to its destination, the Sea of Tranquility, it would have made Israel only the fourth country on that list.
More than that, it would have been only the first private spacecraft to do so. With the announcement of Beresheet 2, Israel and SpaceIL might still achieve their goals.