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Israel Still a Small Country With Big Dreams After Unsuccessful Moon Landing

04-12-2019
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Courtesy SpaceIL and IAI

Leaders in Israel’s space industry hope to try again to land a spacecraft on the moon.  Their first lunar craft crashed, just miles away from its goal of putting down on the moon’s surface. 

Before the spacecraft’s final descent, Israeli pioneers hoped for success.   

“Eight and a half years in the making, so many engineers both in SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries, donors, supporters, volunteers and it’s all coming down to this.  This baby here is going to get to the surface of the moon.  The only question is in how many pieces,” Space IL Co-Founder Jonathan Winetraub told CBN News before the landing attempt.  

SpaceIL’s major donor, Morris Kahn, explained the name of the spacecraft.  

“‘Beeresheet’ is the first word in our Bible, it is ‘in the beginning. And I think for us this is the beginning.  And for Space IL and for Israel Aircraft Industry, this is the beginning,” he said.

But on the verge of history, Israel’s spacecraft “Beresheet” fell just short. 

"It seems that the failure in our inertial measurements’ unit caused a chain of events in the spacecraft's avionics which cut off the engines and caused us to lose the mission,” Israel Aerospace Industries’ Opher Doron told the live audience who gathered to watch the landing.

The attempted moon landing began as a dream by three Israeli engineers eight and a half years ago.  Despite the failure, it still represents the epitome of Israel as the startup nation. 

“It’s a story that shows a lot about Israel.  How three young engineers sitting in a bar can just pull Israel after them and make this a reality,” said SpaceIL Co-Founder Yariv Bash.  

They want to inspire the next generation.

 “We’ve met more than a million kids in Israel and around the world and gave them the message that science and technology can be fun.  It can be cool,” said SpaceIL Kfir Damari.  

SpaceIL became only the seventh nation to put a spacecraft in lunar orbit and the first privately-funded mission to the moon.

 “For a small country like Israel, even smaller company or association like SpaceIL it’s a huge achievement,” said SpaceIL program director Yigal Harel.

 “My message is for the kids,” Winetraub added. “This is hard.  It is rocket science.  Science and engineering is difficult.  It doesn’t always work the first time.  But you have to pick yourself up and try again.”

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu encouraged the space team to go on. 

“If you don’t succeed at first, try again,” he said.

The spacecraft carried a nano copy of the Bible on board. 

Before its final descent, the spacecraft took a selfie with a banner that read, “Small country, big dreams.” 

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