April 11, 2019 12:44 pm
Updated: April 11, 2019 4:55 pm

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashes onto moon after experiencing technical issues

WATCH ABOVE: Israel's Beresheet spacecraft fails to land on moon's surface


JERUSALEM —  The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed onto the moon on Thursday after a series of technical failures during its final descent, shattering hopes of a historic controlled landing on the lunar surface.

READ MORE: Israel aspires to become 4th country to land on the moon

The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the 21 minutes or so of the landing sequence, the support team said.

Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase “In the beginning”, had travelled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon’s gravity last week.

WATCH: SpaceX successfully launches rocket with Israel’s Beresheet craft (Feb. 21)

The final manoeuvre on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, 15-17 km (9-10.5 miles) from the surface at its closest. From there it was a short, nail-biting and ultimately disappointing conclusion.

So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a “soft” landing on the lunar surface: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

This Dec. 17, 2018, file photo shows the SpaceIL lunar module in a special “clean room” during a press tour of their facility near Tel Aviv, Israel.

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

© 2019 Thomson Reuters

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