Been There, Crashed That: SpaceIL Won’t Return to Moon with Beresheet 2

Beresheet impact site as seen by LROC 11 days after the attempted landing. Date in lower left indicates when the image was taken. (Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Two months after crashing its Beresheet spacecraft into the moon, SpaceIL has decided the lunar surface is “not a sufficiently great challenge” to which to send a second lander to visit.

“The journey of Beresheet to the Moon, despite the hard landing, will last in the memory of Israel and the world as a successful one, a breakthrough, and very significant for future human journeys to the Moon,” SpaceIL said in a statement.

“Feedback that we received from across the world in the weeks following the landing pointed toward the mission being considered an extraordinary success and breaking many world records,” the statement added.

SpaceIL did not say where precisely it will send the next mission. My guess is Mars, Venus or an asteroid would be more challenging targets that might lie within SpaceIL’s capabilities and budget.

The $100 million Beresheet mission ended in a crash on April 11 after a command sent to correct a problem with one of the lander’s inertial measurement unit (IMUs) resulted in the spacecraft turning off its engine as it descended toward the lunar surface. Beresheet was destroyed when it slammed into the moon’s Sea of Serenity.

SpaceIL began as a competitor in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. After the prize was terminated with no winner, SpaceIL raised funding to undertake the mission.

The team’s primary benefactor, Morris Kahn, has vowed to help fund a second Beresheet spacecraft. Now what remains is to decide where the spacecraft will go.