Israel plans new moonshot after maiden mission fails

Israel plans new moonshot after maiden mission fails

Israel spacecraft
Israel's attempt at a moon landing failed at the last minute when the Beresheet spacecraft suffered an engine failure as it prepared to land and apparently crashed into the lunar surface. (AFP Photo)

JERUSALEM: The aerospace company behind Israel's failed first moonshot said on Saturday (Apr 13) it would pursue a second mission with funds raised from private donors and the public.

The robot craft Beresheet, built by non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), crashed on its final descent on Thursday, dashing Israel's hope of becoming the fourth country to manage a controlled lunar landing.

"I have had time to think, over the weekend, about what happened, and given all of the encouragement I got, and the support from people all over the world I have come tonight to announce a new project - Beresheet 2," SpaceIL president and high-tech billionaire Morris Kahn told Israel's Channel 12 TV.

The maiden mission cost about US$100 million, most of it raised from private donors like Kahn. He said in the interview that Israeli government participation amounted to about US$3 million.

Private donors were already pledging funds for the new project, Kahn said, but he added that money should come from the public for "a project of the people of Israel@.

"We will not rely on government support," he said.

The Beresheet 2 task force would convene on Sunday, he said: "We began something that we shall complete, and we will place our flag on the mission."

IAI said in a statement it would be happy to be part of further space missions in partnership with SpaceIL under Kahn's leadership".

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

Launched from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket two months ago, Beresheet - Hebrew for "Genesis" or "In the beginning" - would have been the first craft to land on the moon that was not the product of a government programme.

Source: Reuters/nh