Some bittersweet news today as we get the word that the Beresheet spacecraft of Israel unfortunately crashed shortly before touchdown on the Moon. According to telemetry received from the spacecraft up to the last minute, the main engine failed to start during a critical braking combustion that could slow the craft at landing speed. Despite attempts to restart the engine before the impact on the surface, the steamer entered the Moon very difficult and possibly destroyed. Likely high-resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may give us a better idea of the craft's surface condition, but at this point the mission is officially decided.
It's easy to see it as a failure. Originally thought to be an entry in the Google Lunar X Prize, the intended goal for the $ 100 million mission was to be the first privately funded spacecraft to not just press down on the moon's surface, but navigate laterally through a series of powered "hops". While the mission has certainly fallen on high goals, it is important to note that the Beresheet is the land of the Moon.
It did not make the desired soft landing, a work that was completed just now by the United States, Russia, and China; but the fact of the matter is that a spacecraft from Israel is now resting over the moon. Although Beresheet did not survive the landing attempt, history must recognize Israel as the fourth country that puts something over the nearest nearby heavenly neighbors.
This is probably not the last time that Israel reached for the Moon. In the live broadcast of the mission, after the Beresheet was clear was lost, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would test his country for the next two years. The lessons learned today will no doubt help refine their next mission, and have no competition from other countries in the foreseeable future, there is still a good chance that Israel will be able to secure their place in history as the fourth country to make a successful landing landing.
Of course you've got the Moon before you get here, and in this respect, Beresheet is an unsuccessful victory. We cover the complex maneuvers required to place the ship in the orbit of the moon after boarding the space as a second shipment to the Falcon 9 rocket; a technique that is likely to see more than just thanks to NASA's recent commitment to return to the Moon. Even though Beresheet does not try to land on the surface, the fact that it enters into a solid orbit of orbit and delivers stunning up-close images of the Moon's surface is a good worthy point of pride for Israel.
If there is something to be removed from the loss of Beresheet, the trip to the stars is very difficult. At the moment we are reminded that even the smallest incorrect calculation can rapidly expand the tragedy when we leave the relative environmental safety of the Earth. At one time when a mega-rocket launching a car sport live on YouTube seems a peculiar commonplace, it's easy to forget that the long path of mankind in space features a lot of offensive defeat as it has succeeded.
It will not be the last chance to lose hundreds of millions of dollars of high-tech equipment while pushing the full edge of the envelope, and it is nothing to worry about. People have a definite need to see what's on the horizon and that means we have to do a certain level of danger. The alternative is stagnation, and in the long run will cause us more than some crash probes.