Watch Israel’s first-ever Moon landing live

Bridenstine Space Symposium

"If at first you don't succeed, you try again", said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who watched Beresheet's landing attempt from SpaceIL's control center in Yehud, Israel. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the United States on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch.

According to reports citing Mission Command, Beresheet first lost touch with Earth and then crashed during its attempted moon landing.

Israelis are gearing up for an historic event Thursday evening, as the country sets off to become the fourth nation to complete a controlled landing on the moon.

The competition ended a year ago without a victor, but SpaceIL and partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country's biggest aerospace and defense company, continued working on the 5-foot-tall (1.5 meters) Beresheet.

Although the journey is 384,000 kilometres, Beresheet will travel a total of 6.5 million kilometres due to a series of orbits.

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Beresheet is Hebrew for "in the beginning".

The spacecraft will take photos of the landing site to prove a successful landing, adding to its collection of stunning images and videos from its journey.

The spacecraft entered lunar orbit last week, capturing its first images of the dark side of the Moon. That 32-second maneuver shifted the spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit with a closest lunar approach of just 9 to 10 miles (15 to 17 kilometers) and a most-distant point 125 miles (200 km) from the gray dirt, mission team members said.

The goal is to place the lander in the Sea of Serenity on the moon, said NASA. Two and a half to three years from now.

The United States remains the only country to have walked on the moon, with 12 astronauts having taken part in six missions between 1969 and 1972. Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Weintraub hoped to win the $20 million prize by landing an Israeli-built unmanned spaceship on the moon. And it also sports a Laser Retroreflector Array that will allow other spacecraft to zero in on its landing site to within 4 inches by bouncing lasers off Beresheet, which will lend context to the data the craft sends back about its surroundings. "I didn't realize it was impossible and the three engineers who started this project didn't realize it was impossible, and the way we in Israel think, nothing is impossible".

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