Israeli spacecraft crashes during attempted moon landing

first_imgBeresheet snaps a selfie just before its main engine fails, about 20 kilometers above the moon’s surface. Israeli spacecraft crashes during attempted moon landing The vision of the three young engineers who founded SpaceIL was simply to win the XPrize and plant the Israeli flag. With funding from several philanthropists as well as the Israel Space Agency, the team planned to meet the prize’s traveling requirement not with a rover, but by restarting the lander’s rocket engine and hopping the necessary distance. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Space IL and Israel Aerospace Industries *Update, 11 April, 4 p.m.: Beresheet’s end came too quickly. Designed to survive only a few days on the lunar surface, the Israeli private spacecraft instead crashed during its attempted soft landing today on the moon. Things went awry in the control room near the end of its landing sequence as the SpaceIL team saw the spacecraft’s main engine fail and then lost communication with Beresheet. “We have had a failure in the spacecraft. We have unfortunately not managed to land successfully,” said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries, which built the lander for SpaceIL. Although Beresheet, which means “in the beginning” in Hebrew (or “genesis” in Greek), was the first privately built spacecraft to attempt a lunar landing, it is unlikely to be the last. Our preview from 28 March:For Israel, the planned 11 April touchdown of the Beresheet moon lander will be a moment of national pride, as it becomes the fourth country to put a spacecraft on the moon, after Russia, the United States, and China. But for many, the feat will mark a different milestone: If successful, Beresheet would be the first privately built spacecraft to reach the lunar surface, at a fraction of the cost of a government mission. By pioneering a cutrate route to the moon, the landing could ensure that “the world’s lunar scientists are going to be busy for many years to come,” says John Thornton, CEO of rival space company Astrobotic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which plans to launch its first lunar mission in early 2021.The $100 million effort by SpaceIL of Tel Aviv, Israel, is more than a display of commercial space prowess. Beresheet, which is now en route to the moon, carries two scientific instruments, including a magnetometer that could shed light on when and how the moon acquired its curious magnetic field. The mission is also a legacy of the Google Lunar XPrize, a competition launched in 2007 for companies to land on the moon, travel 500 meters, and send video of their achievement. The race ended last year without awarding its $20 million main prize. But several of the prize teams are still at work, competing to carry NASA and commercial payloads to the lunar surface (see table, below). “The XPrize has been effective in its goals, and SpaceIL is a shining example,” says Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express in Cape Canaveral, Florida, another fledgling space company and XPrize finalist. But Oded Aharonson, a planetary scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, saw an unmissable opportunity; he persuaded the team to include scientific instruments and signed on as the mission scientist. In addition to its magnetometer, Beresheet (“genesis” in Hebrew), which was launched on 22 February from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, now carries a retroreflector. The device can reflect a laser beam sent from Earth so scientists can accurately measure the moon’s distance, both to better understand Earth-moon dynamics and to carry out tests of gravity. NASA and Russian landers set up several such reflectors, but more will improve the system’s accuracy.Bigger questions ride on the magnetometer, which will measure the moon’s magnetic field as the probe enters lunar orbit and descends to a landing in Mare Serenitatis, an ancient plain of lava. “It’s a big deal,” says lunar scientist Sonia Tikoo of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. “We’ve never had this level of resolution on another body before.” The moon doesn’t have an overall dipole magnetic field like Earth’s, but coarse satellite measurements together with rock samples brought back by the Apollo missions have shown a patchy field is embedded in its crust. Beresheet is taking a slow, thrifty route to the moon. Over several weeks, it has made increasingly elongated Earth orbits, which will allow lunar gravity to capture it in early April. COMPANYLUNAR LANDINGSCIENCE PAYLOADSNASA PAYLOAD BIDDER COMPANYSpaceILLUNAR LANDING2019SCIENCE PAYLOADSMagnetometer and retroreflectorNASA PAYLOAD BIDDERNo COMPANYMoon ExpressLUNAR LANDING2020SCIENCE PAYLOADSOptical telescope and retroreflectorNASA PAYLOAD BIDDERYes COMPANYTeamIndusLUNAR LANDING2020SCIENCE PAYLOADSUltraviolet telescope, worm growth experiment, and retroreflectorNASA PAYLOAD BIDDERAs part of Orbit Beyond COMPANYPTScientistsLUNAR LANDING2020SCIENCE PAYLOADSTBANASA PAYLOAD BIDDERNo COMPANYSynergy MoonLUNAR LANDING2020SCIENCE PAYLOADSTBANASA PAYLOAD BIDDERNo COMPANYAstroboticLUNAR LANDING2021SCIENCE PAYLOADSTBANASA PAYLOAD BIDDERYes COMPANYHakutoLUNAR LANDING2021SCIENCE PAYLOADSTBANASA PAYLOAD BIDDERTeamed with Draper Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe More scientific data will come with the arrival of other XPrize alumni. On Moon Express’s first flight, planned for 2020, it will carry an optical telescope provided by the International Lunar Observatory Association, which will test the practicality of siting larger telescopes on the moon, far from the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere. Astrobotic’s inaugural mission will ferry more than 20 payloads, including one for the Mexican Space Agency. Astrobotic’s Thornton expects more business from the roughly 50 national space agencies: “Everyone would love to have a moon program of their own.”NASA looks set to become a major customer. Last year, it announced a list of nine companies, among them many XPrize participants, that could bid for contracts to carry NASA lunar payloads. (Foreign companies like SpaceIL did not make the list, but others qualified by acquiring U.S. partners.) Last month, the agency revealed the dozen payloads it wants delivered, and bidding for the jobs will begin shortly. “It’s exciting because there’s a lot of money involved—$2.6 billion over 10 years,” Richards says. “That’s our main focus right now: Deliver as many as we can as soon as we can.”Private companies, too, might engage these lunar FedEx services to test space technology and prospect the moon’s mineral wealth. And a university with deep pockets could dispatch its own experiments there without involving NASA. “The science community is going to love these regular opportunities to go to the moon,” Thornton says. “We’ve been in this business for 12 years. This is what we’ve been waiting for.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Moon-bound Companies founded to vie for the Google Lunar XPrize are planning a flotilla of lunar landers. Some companies will bid to carry payloads for NASA. SPACEIL AND IAI How the magnetic field got there is a puzzle. The prevailing theory holds that the moon once had a liquid iron core that churned like Earth’s before it solidified and imprinted its vanishing field in the crustal rocks. Others believe swirling clouds of hot, ionized gas created by asteroid impacts early in lunar history generated short-lived, local magnetic fields that became locked in the crust.The lava plain Beresheet will land on was created just at the time researchers believe the moon’s dynamo was fading, about 3 billion years ago. Finding a strong field, no field, or something in between “will help us probe when the lunar dynamo extinguished,” Aharonson says; measuring how the field varies across the plain could reveal the effects of later asteroid impacts.”This will help fill in the scales between Apollo samples and satellite measurements,” says planetary scientist Dave Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, but “it’s not clear what the result will be.” Tikoo is more enthusiastic: “Just to show there was an active dynamo in that region will be very interesting.” By Daniel CleryApr. 11, 2019 , 4:00 PMlast_img

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