Doron Opher, general manager of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries, says the unmanned Beresheet lander still had "amazing success." But seven weeks after launching from Cape Canaveral, the small Israeli spacecraft failed to land intact on the moon.
Opher says the SpaceIL craft “definitely crashed on the surface of the moon.” He said the spacecraft was in pieces scattered at the planned landing site.
The lander named Beresheet (“In the beginning” in Hebrew) was attempting to become the first privately funded mission to land on the moon. The spacecraft lost communication with Earth just moments before it was to touch down, dashing hopes of making history.
A rendering of the SpaceIL / Israel Aerospace Industries lunar lander, also known as "Beresheet." A rendering of the SpaceIL / Israel Aerospace Industries lunar lander, also known as "Beresheet." (Photo: SpaceIL / Israel Aerospace Industries)
Doron said that the spacecraft's engine turned off shortly before landing. By the time power was restored, he said the craft was moving too fast to land safely. Scientists were still trying to figure out the cause of the failure.