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'If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again': Israel Unable to Safely Land on Moon But Hope Remains

Animation of Beresheet in lunar orbit/Courtesy SpaceIL and IAI
Animation of Beresheet in lunar orbit/Courtesy SpaceIL and IAI

JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel was unsuccessful in making a historic landing on the moon Thursday evening.

"If at first you don't succeed, you try again," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

The spacecraft reportedly experienced an engine failure just meters away from the moon's surface and crashed. Scientists lost communication with the craft. 

Israel's Beresheet spacecraft was developed by a team of scientists from SpaceIL and Israel Space Industries (IAI) and was supposed to land on the moon approximately 10:25 p.m. (3:25 p.m. ET).

On Wednesday, the SpaceIL and IAI team successfully completed the last maneuver before landing.

The maneuver lowered the spacecraft’s altitude in preparation for its landing. Beresheet orbited the moon for several hours before scientists attempted to land it. 

Beresheet's mission on the moon was supposed to last two to three days. The craft was sent to take pictures of the lunar surface and conduct experiments.

The spacecraft was also carrying with it God's written word to the moon. It had a time capsule containing a database of hundreds of files. The files included a copy of the Bible, information about SpaceIL, Israeli national symbols, and other materials.

The capsule was going to be left on the moon's surface after Israel completed its mission there.

Israeli leaders hoped the mission would have an "Apollo Effect" on Israeli youth.

"We want the Israeli kids and the Israeli youth to, we want to encourage them to learn STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and informatics - and we hope that they will have this mission [and] we will create the effect and encourage them," said SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Antebi.

President Reuven Rivlin said he used to dream of going to the moon 

"When I was a child, we used to write fortunes on bubblegum wrappers – 'by the time you're 21, you'll go to the moon'. Then, it seemed fantastical, impossible. Until now, only great powers have landed on the moon – the United States, the Soviet Union and China. But if everything goes to plan, the State of Israel – our young and small country – will be the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon."

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