Agency, 12 April : The first privately funded mission to the Moon has crashed on the lunar surface after the apparent failure of its main engine.
The Israeli spacecraft – called Beresheet – attempted a soft landing, but suffered technical problems on its descent to the Moon’s surface. The aim of the mission was to take pictures and conduct experiments.
Israel hoped to become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Only government space agencies from the former Soviet Union, the US and China have made successful Moon landings.
“We didn’t make it, but we definitely tried,” said project originator and major backer Morris Kahn. “I think that the achievement of getting to where we got is really tremendous, I think we can be proud,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, watching from the control room near Tel Aviv, said: “If at first you don’t succeed, you try again.”
After a seven-week journey to the Moon, the unmanned spacecraft approached a final orbit at 15km (9m) from the surface.
Tensions were high in the command centre as communications were lost before Opher Doron, the general manager of Israel Aerospace Indurstries’ space division, announced there had been a failure in the spacecraft.
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