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Israel investigates 'chain of events' in failed moon landing

We need to go in and understand the technical details inside in greater depth [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 April, 2019

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SpaceIL said it is still investigating a breakdown that caused the spacecraft to crash on the moon's surface.


The Israeli non-profit organisation behind last week's botched lunar landing has announced on Thursday that it is still investigating a breakdown that caused the spacecraft to crash on the moon's surface.

SpaceIL said that engineers in mission control received a fault message in the craft's inertial measurement unit, a critical part of its guidance system, during the lander's final descent.

The team issued an activation command, which triggered a "chain of events" resulting in the spacecraft's main engine failing, sending it plummeting to the moon.

In a briefing over the phone, SpaceIL Chief Executive Ido Anteby told reporters that more investigation is needed to understand the full picture of what happened.

"We need to go in and understand the technical details inside in greater depth, but that's the sequence that happened in the telemetry," he said

"We have no assumption about the reason why this error happened," he added.

The non-profit organisation said it would keep up analysing the flight data to identify the roots of the dramatic glitch and publish an assessment in the coming weeks.

SpaceIL’s attempt to land on the moon is the first by a privately funded venture.

A successful operation would have made it only the fourth country to ever complete a moon mission, after the Soviet Union, the United States and China.

Following the spacecraft failure at the last minute on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said "if at first you don't succeed, you try again."

The unmanned spacecraft, shaped like a pod and weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) at launch, is named Beresheet, which means "Genesis" in Hebrew.

Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have described it as the "world's first spacecraft built in a non-governmental mission".

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