Mission beresheet – the specs

Beresheet was Israel’s first lunar mission and the first attempt by a private company to land on the Moon. The mission achieved lunar orbit, but was lost during an April 2019 landing attempt. NASA had installed a small laser retroreflector aboard the lander to test its potential as a navigation tool.

Beresheet means ​”In the Beginning” in Hebrew.
OUTCOME: PARTIAL SUCCESS

Beresheet was about 5 feet (1 meter) tall by 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide with its landing gear and legs deployed. The lander separated first from the rocket, taking the long route to the Moon to save fuel by employing gravitational forces to propel itself. Beresheet slowly widened an elliptical orbit around Earth until it was captured by the Moon’s gravity and ultimately commanded to descend.

Beresheet attempted to touch down on April 11, 2019 in an ancient volcanic field known as the Sea of Serenity (Mare Serenitatis in Latin). NASA’s Apollo 17 astronauts landed near this region on Dec. 11, 1972. The team lost contact with the spacecraft shortly before expected touchdown.

“While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on April 11. “Every attempt to reach new milestones holds opportunities for us to learn, adjust and progress. I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements.”

SpaceIL was established in 2010 to tackle the Lunar X Prize, a competition sponsored by Google that challenged private companies to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Though no company was able to meet the competition deadline, prompting Google to end it with no winner in March 2018, the Israeli team pressed on.

Additional Resources
National Space Science Data Center: Beresheet

Primary Source
Shekhtman, Lonnie. “NASA is Aboard First Private Moon Landing Attempt.” NASA Solar System Exploration, https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/856/nasa-is-aboard-first-private-moon-landing-attempt/.

“Update on First Private Robotic Spacecraft Attempt at Moon Landing.” NASA.gov, 11 April 2019, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/update-on-first-private-robotic-spacecraft-attempt-at-moon-landing.

Retrieved on May 3, 2019, from
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/beresheet/in-depth/

Beresheet – mission recap

SpaceIL’s Beresheet Lunar Lander: Israel’s 1st Trip to the Moon
By Charlie Wood 18 days ago Spaceflight

Reference Article

Some nights, the moon may look close enough to touch, but only a handful of teams have succeeded in reaching the lunar surface. The USSR did it in 1966 and the U.S. followed just four months later. China pulled it off in 2013 and again just recently, in January 2019. In April 2019, an Israeli nonprofit organization called SpaceIL tried to become the first Israeli entity to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon, but it failed to stick the landing.

Israel and SpaceIL aren’t throwing in the towel just yet. Just days after the failed attempt, Morris Kahn, the billionaire businessman, philanthropist and SpaceIL president, confirmed that the SpaceIL team had already scheduled meetings to begin planning the Beresheet 2.0 mission.

“We’re going to actually build a new halalit — a new spacecraft,” Kahn said in a video statement posted on Twitter by SpaceIL. “We’re going to put it on the moon, and we’re going to complete the mission.”

SpaceIL’s lunar lander, Beresheet, launched from Cape Canaveral on a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Feb. 21, 2019, along with an Indonesian communications satellite and a U.S. Air Force satellite. Over nearly two months, the craft maneuvered into successively longer loops around the planet until reached the moon. Beresheet carried a time capsule of digital records and an instrument to study the moon’s magnetic field. Although the spacecraft failed to touch down safely, it was the first attempted moon landing for Israel and the first for a privately funded organization from anywhere.

While previous moonshots culminated from years of concerted governmental effort, SpaceIL operates more like a startup company. Inspired by the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition to land a probe on the moon, computer engineer Yariv Bash launched the endeavor in 2010. Bash started with a web domain and a Facebook post asking, “Who wants to go to the moon,” according to SpaceIL educational volunteers manager Hili Shapiro.

Initially, Bash and his two co-founders hoped to land a water bottle-size probe on the moon by the end of 2012 to win the $20 million purse. In addition to research, the team’s early efforts focused on securing funding and finding rocket scientists. “You can’t build a spacecraft with only three people,” Shapiro told Space.com.

Over the course of the project, SpaceIL managed to raise at least $100 million from major donors and recruit scores of volunteers; Shapiro estimates that roughly 80 percent of the nearly 200-person organization consists of volunteers, including some engineers.

After building the company, SpaceIL had to build the spacecraft. Engineering began in earnest after the team secured a launch contract with SpaceX in 2015 and determined how much volume would be available on the rocket. And it wasn’t a lot.

To keep costs low, SpaceIL agreed to share a rocket with two other satellites. The shared launch would bring the craft only to Earth orbit, from which point the lunar lander would have to fly itself all the way to the moon. The added fuel requirements of this approach killed plans for the water-bottle-size probe, so blueprints for a 1,314-lb. (596 kilograms), smart-car-size, four-legged lander took their place.

The cramped rocket didn’t allow room for Beresheet to include backup systems, such as an extra computer to test code or run updates. Any major system failure would doom the craft, according to flight software developer Shai Yehezkel; however, mission control made minor tweaks to adapt on the fly, such as configuring the craft to reject faulty star readings that unexpectedly cropped up when Earth blocked part of the craft’s field of view. “The best engineering work was made from the limited budget,” Yehezkel told Space.com. “We know how to improvise.”

The X Prize expired unclaimed in 2018, but SpaceIL’s outreach-driven mission has kept the company going. Shapiro estimates that the company’s volunteers lecture 20,000 students each month, and cereal boxes across Israel recently featured cardboard cutouts of Beresheet, which means “in the beginning,” or “genesis,” in Hebrew.

“We are not just saying to dream big,” Shapiro said. “We are actually showing them that we are doing it.”

Beresheet made three orbits around Earth, each longer than the last, until the craft crossed paths with the moon. The original goal was to loop around the moon twice before touching down in the Mare Serenitatis, or Sea of Serenity, on April 11, 2019, at the end of a two-week long lunar night, the flight team expected. The early morning light of the subsequent two-week lunar day gave the probe the energy it needed to record the local magnetic field, an experiment run in collaboration with NASA.

But even it had landed successfully, the same sunlight would have soon spelled Beresheet’s demise, overheating the lander’s electronics. Now, the vehicle has become a monument. It’s also an archive, as it carried a DVD-sized digital-analog hybrid disks bearing copies of the Bible, drawings from Israeli schoolchildren, English Wikipedia and 30 million pages of records representing a “backup” of humanity’s knowledge. SpaceIL hopes future moonwalkers might decode the time capsule and learn about Earth in 2019. “We are throwing them a challenge,” Yehezkel said.

Despite Beresheet’s disappointing crash-landing, the SpaceIL team remains dedicated to their goal of successfully landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

Israel Aerospace Industries, the contractor who built the craft, has signed an agreement with a German firm to build similar landers for the European Space Agency in the future.

SpaceIL plans to continue its educational activities and seeks an Israeli “Apollo effect” to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts, Shapiro said. “We hope our story will begin more stories.”

Retrieved on May 3rd, 2019, from https://www.space.com/spaceil-beresheet.html

Israel to the Moon – the very beginning (2013, Ha’aretz)

Israeli Space Engineers Hope to Take Another Giant Leap for Mankind
Responding to a Google challenge to grab HD footage from the moon’s surface, a team of Israeli volunteers aims for a 2015 launch.

Aliyana Traison
Mar 15, 2013 12:29 PM

Israel may not have Apollo, but its space industry is hoping to take a giant leap for mankind in 2015 to become the third country in history to land on the moon, this time in a tiny unmanned spacecraft equipped with high definition technology capable of broadcasting images back to Earth.

The initiative is the brainchild of SpaceIL, a non-profit organization founded by three young Israeli engineers who embarked on Google’s international Lunar X project about two years ago. Google has promised $20 million to the first team that successfully lands on the moon, travels at least 500 meters on the lunar surface, and brings back HD video, images and data. As a further incentive for the competing teams, the prize will drop to $15 million if a government funded project beats them to it – a goal which China hopes to achieve this year.

Continue reading “Israel to the Moon – the very beginning (2013, Ha’aretz)”

TOI – Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashes into the moon during landing attempt (04/11/19)

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashes into the moon during landing attempt.
Vehicle built on shoestring budget fails during descent, after weeks of careful maneuvering in space; Netanyahu: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try again’
By MELANIE LIDMAN
11 April 2019, 11:03 pm

The Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface during its attempt to land on Earth’s satellite on Thursday evening, dashing the hopes of hundreds of engineers who had worked on the project for years.

Israel could still claim the title of seventh country to make lunar orbit, and the seventh country to reach the lunar surface, though unfortunately not in one piece.

“As far as we can see, we were very close to the moon,” operation control director Alex Friedman said to engineers in the SpaceIL control room in Yehud, east of Tel Aviv, after communication with the spacecraft went down. “We are on the moon, but not in the way that we wanted to.”

Continue reading “TOI – Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashes into the moon during landing attempt (04/11/19)”

TOI – Engineers detail glitches that caused Beresheet to slam into moon (04/14/2019)

Engineers detail glitches that caused Beresheet to slam into moon
Technical problems began miles above landing spot when spacecraft lost main engine; engineers restarted it, but too late to prevent the craft smashing into lunar surface at 310 mph
By MELANIE LIDMAN
12 April 2019, 5:56 pm

Engineers on Friday released preliminary data about what they believe went wrong in the last moments of Beresheet’s flight, a day after the Israeli spacecraft crash-landed on the moon.

Engineers believe a technical glitch — likely in the component that measures the spacecraft’s altitude in relation to the surface — triggered a chain reaction of events that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to stop.

Continue reading “TOI – Engineers detail glitches that caused Beresheet to slam into moon (04/14/2019)”

Beresheet – The spotify playlist

The I center, dedicated to sharing educative ressources about Israel, created a playlist for the Beresheet mission, filled with Israeli songs relevant to the adventure. It’s pretty awesome, and it’s right here:

The original page is here (and did I mention it’s pretty awesome?).

JPost – Despite Crash, SpaceIL to receive $1 million moonshot award

DESPITE CRASH, SPACEIL TO RECEIVE $1 MILLION MOONSHOT AWARD
Founded in 1995, California-headquartered XPRIZE designs global competitions to incentivize the development of technological breakthroughs that accelerate humanity toward a better future.
BY EYTAN HALON APRIL 12, 2019 18:27

While SpaceIL’s attempt to land the Beresheet spacecraft on the Moon on Thursday evening ended in disappointment, the non-profit organization will receive a $1 million “Moonshot Award” from the XPRIZE Foundation for its achievements.

Founded in 1995, California-headquartered XPRIZE designs global competitions to incentivize the development of technological breakthroughs that accelerate humanity toward a better future.

Continue reading “JPost – Despite Crash, SpaceIL to receive $1 million moonshot award”

JPost – On Verge of Space History, Beresheet fails to land safely on moon

ON VERGE OF SPACE HISTORY, BERESHEET FAILS TO LAND SAFELY ON MOON
The State of Israel fell just short of becoming only the fourth member of a prestigious club of nations to complete the formidable task of landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface.
BY EYTAN HALON APRIL 12, 2019 01:31

Israel almost succeeded in rewriting lunar history on Thursday evening but fell short after spacecraft Beresheet (Hebrew for Genesis) failed to land safely on the Moon.

Millions around the world tuned in live to watch the SpaceIL vessel, carrying an Israeli flag and a nano-Bible, descend to the Moon’s Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity) as the State of Israel sought to become only the fourth member of a prestigious club of nations to complete the formidable task of landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

Continue reading “JPost – On Verge of Space History, Beresheet fails to land safely on moon”