The Israeli moon lander crashed - but it shared this selfie first

Aerospace Industries

The Beresheet spacecraft, while approaching the moon crashed as its engine had stopped.

First, Beresheet was the world's first privately funded moon mission, and at $100 million, it was considered a shoestring budget for a space project, marking a milestone for further lunar exploration.

"It seems that a failure in our inertial measurements unit caused a chain of events in the spacecraft avionics which cut off the engines and caused us to lose the mission", said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

"As far as we can see, we were very close to the moon", operation control director Alex Friedman said.

"We'll try again, and next time we'll just try it more gently". "True, not as we had hoped, but we will succeed in the end".

The failure was a disappointing end to a lunar voyage of 6.5 million kilometers (4 million miles), nearly unprecedented in length and created to conserve fuel and reduce price.

But the Beresheet mission, which launched on 22 February from Cape Canaveral in Florida, spent weeks reaching its destination. The craft also carried a time capsule that contains digital files of the Bible, children's drawings, Israeli folk songs, the recorded memories of a Holocaust survivor, and the Israeli flag.

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The US remains the only country to have walked on the moon, with 12 astronauts having taken part in six missions between 1969 and 1972.

Aldrin, an Apollo astronaut who together with Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, sent his condolences to the SpaceIL team "for what nearly was", adding: "Never lose hope".

Millionaire Morris Kahn told Israeli media that in light of the support he has received from all over the work, a new Beresheet project will be launched.

Beresheet made the final cut, but after several deadline extensions, the competition ended a year ago without a victor.

Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing, engine firings slowed Beresheet's descent.

"We haven't landed on the moon yet, but Israelis are not losers, they're winners".

Phil Larson of the University of Colorado, who was a space adviser in the Obama White House, said the Israeli effort underlines that "space is still extremely hard, and landing human made objects on other worlds is an utmost challenge".

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