UPDATE: The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet reached the moon on Thursday but its planned controlled, or “soft”, landing was unsuccessful, the support team said.
The spacecraft had a number of technical problems during its final descent to the lunar surface, the team said.
The spacecraft experienced a failure of its main engine just seconds before it was expected to reach the lunar surface. “We had a failure of the spacecraft, we have not landed successfully,” explained SpaceIL. A problem with the spacecraft’s engine was reported at 3:24 p.m. ET.
Before the mission’s failure, Beresheet snapped a selfie as it approached the lunar surface.
The mission has cost about $100 million and has paved the way for future low-cost lunar exploration.
The Beresheet spacecraft, which was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 22 and has traveled four million miles in its journey to the moon, is now set to reach its destination.
The landing process will start at 10:05 PM Israeli time (3:05 EST). The craft will touch down on the lunar surface approximately 25 minutes later.
Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the two main partners in the project, describe Beresheet as the “world’s first spacecraft built in a non-governmental mission,” with philanthropist Morris Kahn providing $40 million of the $100 million budget.
With tonight’s landing, Israel will become the fourth country to put a spacecraft on the moon, following the United States, Russia, and China.
Beresheet carries a scientific instrument to measure the lunar magnetic field, which will help scientists to understand how the moon formed.
Watch LIVE below.