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An Israeli spacecraft, Beresheet, crashed trying to land on the moon Thursday afternoon. "However, its latest message said: "#Beresheet's main engine fail!

The project began in 2010 when Damari, along with Yonatan Winetraub and Yariv Bash, founded SpaceIL to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which challenged participating teams to "land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high-definition video and images" for a chance at winning $20 million.

The sheer enormity of the undertaking makes it seem impossible, but thanks to some awesome rocket science, Israel has joined the short list of nations that have so much as sent a craft into the Moon's orbit.

The spacecraft aimed to perform a soft landing on the moon and would have made Israel the fourth country to do so - and by far the smallest.

Doron nonetheless called the mission an "amazing success" for reaching the moon and coming so close to landing successfully. It was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

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Channel 13 reported that, following the mission failure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the small group of VIPs who assembled at mission control to watch the landing attempt, "If at first you don't succeed, try again". It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the USA on February 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch. Though the probe was programmed to land itself, it had only a single laser-based sensor to guide its descent, making the approach to the lunar surface an especially risky one. He said the spacecraft was in pieces scattered at the planned landing site.

Beresheet entered orbit around the moon April 4.

"What makes it hard is the conditions - the geological and atmospheric conditions are different on the moon and the planets than they are on Earth", McCurdy said. "We're looking forward to future opportunities to explore the Moon together". "I'd like to feel that I've used my money productively", Kahn said.

"There is a suspicion that we did not land on the moon in the best fashion".

NASA broadcast the landing attempt live on its dedicated TV channels, as well as online.

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Both Nasa and Esa have also announced their intention to use commercial landers to deliver scientific payloads to the lunar surface.

India hopes to become the next lunar country in the spring with its Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Rob Westcott, senior propulsion engineer at Nammo, said: "We've never used an engine in this kind of application before".

"We are full of admiration for the wonderful people who brought the spacecraft to the moon", Rivlin said. "I think we can be proud".

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