Israel moon landing attempt falls short, makes history anyway

Israel-based SpaceIL attempted to land a spacecraft on the moon today, and fell just short of final intact touchdown. This marks the unfortunate end of the first attempt at this mission, a mission which also saw the first Israeli spacecraft leave our Earth's orbit – in the history of humanity. Ironically it would still seem that the team reached one other goal, albeit not exactly as they'd planned...

Israel is now the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon – if you're counting a crash-landing as a landing. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the less-than-perfect ending to the story, suggesting that "if you don't succeed, try again."

Netanyahu also predicted that Israel would land a ship successfully in two or three years. At that time "an Israeli spacecraft will land on the moon, whole." The first mission's spacecraft was named Beresheet, aka genesis, the start, the beginning.

Opher Doron, general manger of the Israel Aerospace Industries space program, was also in hopeful spirits despite the crash. "We are the seventh country to orbit the moon and the fourth to reach the moon's surface," said Doron. "It's a tremendous achievement up to now."

ABOVE: You'll find a screenshot of the Israel Aviation Authority's listing of "Israel Aerospace Industr" IAI Space flight headed to: MOON! That was scheduled for a landing at local time 22:00 and was spotted by Yair Rosenberg.

This mission is also humanity's first privately funded mission to reach lunar orbit, and the first Israeli craft to reach lunar orbit (at the same time!) Imagine that!

"They may not have had a successful landing this time, but @TeamSpaceIL has still made history," said an Xprize representative. "They will be the recipients of our first ever $1M Moonshot Award, in honor of their achievements and their milestone as the first privately-funded entity to orbit the Moon."

In other words, despite the less-than-perfect landing, Xprize will still award the group their full $1-million USD prize so SpaceIL can "continue their work and pursue Beresheet 2.0" in the near future.