The Dallas Morning News

Israeli spacecraft crashes on moon

Netanyahu encourages team after failure, says mission isn’t finished

- By RUTH EGLASH

An Israeli spacecraft crashes on the moon just moments before it was to touch down.

YEHUD, Israel — Israel was hoping on Thursday to become the fourth nation ever to land a spacecraft on the moon, but the lunar mission, which was broadcast live on Israeli TV and on social media, went awry as the main engine appeared to go into failure and the control center suddenly lost communicat­ion with the craft a few minutes before it was to touch down.

“We’ve landed, but not in the way we wanted to,” Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries, which assisted in building the vessel Beresheet, informed a crowd of onlookers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The newly reelected leader told the team of scientists, engineers and entreprene­urs gathered at the control center

in Yehud, in central Israel, that they should not be disappoint­ed and that it was still a great achievemen­t. Israel, he said, would try again soon to reach the moon and land properly.

Morris Kahn, president of Spaceil, which spearheade­d the complicate­d and ambitious project, said: “Israel made it to the moon. Beresheet’s journey hasn’t ended. I expect Israel’s next generation to complete the mission for us.”

The $100 million initiative was almost entirely funded by Jewish donors and foundation­s from around the world, though some government agencies offered support. Kahn, a South Africanbor­n millionair­e, “gifted” the project to Israel and declared it a national project. He said he was hopeful that the initiative would contribute significan­tly to future space exploratio­n and also to inspire a new generation of Israeli children to embrace science and realize that anything is possible.

Seven countries have attempted to land on the moon, but only three have succeeded so far — the first unmanned landing was by the former Soviet Union in 1966, then American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin reached the moon in 1969, and in 2013 there was an unmanned landing by China. All were government­sponsored endeavors.

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