Team SpaceIL says this was the last picture taken by the Beresheet lunar lander, at a distance of 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the lunar surface. (SpaceIL Photo)
A manually entered command apparently set off a chain reaction of events that led to last week’s crash of an Israeli-built lunar lander during its attempt to touch down on the moon, the mission’s managers said today.
Preliminary results of an investigation into the crash indicate that the manual command was entered into the spacecraft’s computer, which caused the main engine to switch off and stay off during the Beresheet lander’s descent. That led to the failure of the nearly $100 million lunar mission, which took its name from the Hebrew words for “In the Beginning.”
The privately funded SpaceIL team and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said that the investigation is continuing, and that final results will be released in the coming weeks. Today’s statement did not make clear who entered the command, or whether it was entered inadvertently or intentionally.
“”I am proud of SpaceIL’s team of engineers for their wonderful work and dedication, and such cases are an integral part of such a complex and pioneering project,” Israeli billionaire Morris ...