- In February, SpaceX launched the first private moon mission.
- Beresheet, as the 1,300-lb robot is called, was designed by an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL.
- The four-legged moon-craft attempted a lunar landing on Thursday but crashed into the surface.
- An engine failure is suspected to be the cause of the crash.
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Nearly two months after its launch with a SpaceX rocket, the first private mission ever to try landing on the moon has ended in failure.
The dishwasher-size robot, called Beresheet (a biblical reference that means "in the beginning"), attempted the first private moon landing on Thursday shortly after 3 p.m. EDT. The roughly 1,300-lb four-legged probe was designed and built by an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL and backed by about $100 million in private funding.
Had the mission been successful, it would have made Israel the fourth nation ever to have a spacecraft survive a lunar-landing attempt.
However, its main engine failed during its descent toward the moon. By the time mission controllers rebooted the spacecraft to try and restart the engine, according to a live broadcast of the event, it was too late.
"Beresheet crashed on the surface of the moon after the main engine broke down," Eylon Levy, a journalist for i24NEWS, tweeted after the failure.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate, commented on the failure shortly after it occurred.
"Space is hard, but worth the risks. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward," Zurbuchen tweeted. "It’s when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness. Thank you for inspiring us @TeamSpaceIL. We’re looking forward to future opportunities to explore the Moon together."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present at the launch following his reelection, also commented on the failure during a livestream of the landing attempt.
"If at first you don’t succeed, try again," Netanyahu said.
This is a developing story.
- Israeli scientists tried to pull off the first private moon landing, but the robotic probe failed and crashed into the lunar surface
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