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When the landing moment comes, a series of commands from SpaceIL and IAI's control room in the central Israeli city of Yehud, will activate the spacecraft's sensors, after which its engine will run as it makes its way to the landing site.

A packed audience including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had gathered at mission control to watch the event, which was broadcast live on national television and YouTube.

The Beresheet spacecraft lost communication with ground control as it was making its final descent.

Beresheet marks the first time the Israelis have attempted to land a craft on the surface of the Moon.

Beresheet's landing would have made Israel the fourth country to put a robotic probe on the lunar surface, after Russian Federation, the United States and China. "We have also made Israel the seventh country ever to orbit the moon and, hopefully by tonight, the fourth country to actually land on the moon".

The country's main airport has included an impending flight to the moon in the landing schedule, which is expected to take place on the evening of 11 April.

Beresheet, which is the first word of the Hebrew Bible and means "in the beginning", was a combined effort between SpaceIL, a privately funded non-profit and Israel Aerospace Industries.

"Don't stop believing! We came close but unfortunately didn't succeed with the landing process", tweeted SpaceIL.

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The lander launched on the night of February 21, soaring into Earth orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The four-legged spacecraft, which was approximately the size of a washing machine, had been circling the Earth in increasingly large orbits waiting to be captured by the moon's gravity.

The spacecraft was created to photograph its landing site and snap a selfie.

It was the first such crash for an uncrewed mission, but far from the last. "We're looking forward to future opportunities to explore the Moon together".

"For me it actually started on Facebook when a friend wrote to me saying he wanted to open the Israeli team to compete in the X Prize", Damari said.

Although the mission failed, it was relatively cheap compared with previous lunar-landing attempts.

"We are on the moon but not in the way we wanted", one unidentified staffer said. What we do know, however, is that the lander didn't land, it crashed. SpaceIL also planned to share its data with NASA and other space agencies and "hop" Beresheet to another location using its thrusters. By the time connectivity was restored, the spacecraft was moving too quickly to be fully braked before impacting the lunar surface.

"Putting a spacecraft on the Moon is a little bit of a kind of a weird project", Kahn said.


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