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  1. Israel's Beresheet moon landing attempt ends with a crash Landing on the moon is hard, but SpaceIL still achieved historic milestones during the mission. Beresheet snapped this partial selfie during its approach to the moon. SpaceIL/IAI Israel's Beresheet would have been the most unlikely lunar lander in history, but the spacecraft didn't survive its reach for the moon's surface Thursday. SpaceIL's live broadcast followed the tense maneuvers needed to get the lunar lander down to the Sea of Serenity on the near side of the moon. The Beresheet team members worked in the control room as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched from a spectator area. The landing process suffered some glitches when the main engine cut out and mission control lost communication. The disappointed team reacted calmly to the failure. The failed mission will be remembered as bittersweet. "Well, we didn't make it, but we definitely tried, and the achievement of getting where we got is really tremendous," said Morris Khan, an Israeli entrepreneur who provided a large portion of the funding for Beresheet, as he addressed the observers near the control room. "We can be proud." NASA commended the mission in a tweet: "We congratulate SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit." Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 pilot, also had kind words. "Never lose hope. Your hard work, teamwork, and innovation is inspiring to all," he tweeted. View image on Twitter This was a mission of firsts. Beresheet was to be Israel's first moon lander, which would have put the country in an exclusive club that includes the US, Soviet Union and China. In addition, nonprofit SpaceIL would have been the first private, nongovernment group to set a lander on the moon's surface. SpaceIL was originally conceived to compete in Google's Lunar X Prize which, in 2007, threw down a challenge to private companies to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. The original deadline to claim the $30 million in prize money was originally 2014, but it was extended out until 2018 before an announcement that the prize would go unclaimed. Although SpaceIL didn't quite make the deadline, the X Prize foundation was inspired by its attempt, creating a new prize dubbed the Moonshot Award. Originally, the foundation stated "for their achievement upon landing on the moon", X Prize would hand SpaceIL the first Moonshot Award -- and $1 million. Of course, Beresheet did not make it to the surface in one piece but it did still land -- albeit with a little more force than hoped. As a result, the foundation said it would still be providing SpaceIL with the cash. Beresheet launched on Feb. 21 on a SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket and overcame a brief technical glitch along the way. The lander was designed to take pictures of its surroundings and measure the moon's magnetic field. It was even able to snap one final, breathtaking image as it approached the lunar surface and beam it back to Earth. SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had placed a time capsule in the lander filled with digital files covering Israel's history and heritage. That time capsule was likely lost along with the spacecraft. The dream didn't quite come to fruition, but Beresheet's journey to lunar orbit was still an important moment in space history that made the moon feel more in reach for the world. Source Before crashing into the moon, Israel's lunar lander grabbed a breathtaking final image The spacecraft captured a wonderful image of the moon's gray, shadowed surface before its untimely end. The surface of the moon as seen by Beresheet moments before it crashed into the lunar surface. It was a bittersweet end for SpaceIL's Beresheet probe, the first privately funded lunar lander humans have sent to the moon. During the landing attempt on Thursday, the main engine cut out and communication was lost, ultimately resulting in Beresheet crashing into the moon's surface. But before its untimely demise, Beresheet was able to turn its camera toward the lunar surface one final time to snap a stunning last image of the moon's surface. Elad Raston, a diplomat at the Israel Foreign Ministry, tweeted that he had received "what appears to be the last image" that the spacecraft sent back to Earth before it failed. View image on Twitter Landing on the face of another space rock is a decidedly difficult process. Although the lander did not achieve its core mission of a soft moon landing, it was still marked with a number of important firsts. Beresheet was the first private spacecraft to insert itself into lunar orbit and made Israel the seventh nation to achieve such a feat. The robotic explorers we send to new frontiers have a history of providing us with final images of other worlds before going gently (or violently) into the good night. Opportunity, the deceased Mars rover, was also able to snap a breathtaking panorama of the Martian surface, before it succumbed to a dust storm in 2018. Source
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