Two weeks have passed since SpaceIL Beresheet lunar lander, the first Israeli spacecraft to reach the Moon, met its untimely demise as when a critical failure ruined the landing.
The spacecraft was in the middle of the landing stage when an engine failure occurred. New data suggests that the incident may have been caused by human error — a press release offered by SpaceIL shares the result of the preliminary investigation.
Initial analysis suggests that a manual command was sent to the computer when the spacecraft was preparing for landing maneuvers.
The command started a chain reaction which forced the engines to switch off. Further investigations will take place as SpaceIL, and the Israeli space agency want to understand what happened during the event.
Manual command error behind the Beresheet lunar lander crash, SpaceIL reported
A few engineers managed to restart the engines, but it was already too late as the spacecraft plummeted to the surface of the moon. The company has already announced that a new spacecraft will be built in the future, and a new mission will take place soon.
The Beresheet initiative began as a project enrolled in a competition held by Google. The giant tech company aimed to motivate private companies to participate in the development of the space industry, which is currently dominated by big names like SpaceX and Boeing. The competition ended without a winner but private funds were secured, and the development of the spacecraft continued.
The small spacecraft was launched from Florida as SpaceIL managed to secure a slot on a Falcon 9 rocket. It spent several weeks in space in attempted to follow a trajectory which used a minimal amount of fuel and managed to enter the orbit of the moon without problems.
The payload of the spacecraft included a digital archive which contains a large amount of data, a magnetometer and a laser retroreflector array provided by NASA. It is thought that the latter may have survived the collision, but there is no way to track it down at this point.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca