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Israeli Spacecraft Crashes in Attempt to Land on Moon

By World Israel News, DEBKAfile, VOA News, Israel Hayom,, YnetNews, JTA & the Jerusalem Post An Israeli spacecraft, Beresheet, the first word of Genesis "in the beginning," has failed in its attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar mission. The SpaceIL spacecraft lost contact with Earth late Thursday, crashing just moments before it was to land on the moon. Scientists declared the mission a failure. The final maneuver brought the spacecraft into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, just 15-17 kilometers (9-10.5 miles) from the surface at its closest. The small robotic spacecraft, built by the non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, had hoped to match a feat that has only been achieved by the national space agencies of three countries: U.S., Russia and China. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was on hand for what organizers had hoped to be a celebration. Netanyahu predicted an "intact" landing within two years. Meanwhile, President Reuven Rivlin soothed the children who were invited to his residence to hopefully watch a successful landing. Rivlin told the assembled youth, the moon mission was "an excellent achievement," calling the evening an important night for the State of Israel," reported the Times of Israel. "There is no need to be disappointed. We need to praise what we accomplished." The president then led the crowd in singing the national anthem, Hatikvah. Later he added, "Sure we didn't land exactly like we wanted, but we landed. We are on the moon!" Despite failing to make a soft landing, the mere fact that it made it thus far means that Israel is the seventh to enter the moon's orbit. Just before the craft headed toward the surface, it captured the moon's surface and sent back a "selfie" with Israel's flag and the caption "Small Country, Big Dreams." So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled "soft" landings of spacecraft on the lunar surface – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China. During its six-week voyage, the moon craft broke out of earth's orbit to circle the moon in ever decreasing elliptical cycles, reducing speed until it was minutes away from landing on the moon on Thursday night, April 11. The lander had been operating autonomously according to instructions fed into its computer in advance. Then, suddenly, while orbiting the moon, shortly before making its scheduled autonomous descent, the main engine developed a fault and contact was lost with the control room at Israeli Aerospace Industries. Instead of making a soft landing, Beresheet went into free fall 25km above the surface and 800km from the landing site. The project, which if successful, would have made Israel the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon after the US, Russia and China, took eight years of preparation and an investment of $100 million in private funds and donations. Israel will have to settle for being the seventh country in the world to attempt a moon landing and try again. ``We definitely crashed on surface of moon,'' said Opher Doron, general manager of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries. He said the spacecraft was in pieces scattered at the planned landing site adding that the spacecraft's engine turned off shortly before landing. By the time power was restored, he said the craft was moving too fast to land safely. Scientists were still trying to figure out the cause of the failure. ``One of the inertial measurement units failed. And that caused an unfortunate chain of events we're not sure about,'' he said. ``The engine was turned off. The engine was stopped and the spacecraft crashed. That's all we know.'' The failure was a disappointing ending to a 6.5 million-kilometer (4 million-mile) lunar voyage, almost unprecedented in length that was designed to conserve fuel and reduce price. The spacecraft hitched a ride on the SpaceX Falcon rocket, launched from Florida in February. For the past two months, Beresheet traveled around the Earth several times before entering lunar orbit. Shaped like a round table with four carbon-fiber legs, Beresheet stands about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) tall. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the United States on Feb. 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and entered Earth's orbit about 34 minutes after launch. At launch it weighed 585 kg (1,290 pounds), most of which was fuel burned during its circuitous flight path of around 4 million miles (6.5 million km). A direct route from the Earth to the moon covers roughly 240,000 miles (386,000 km). The landing process started at 10:05 p.m. Israeli time (3:05 p.m. EDT). The craft was supposed to touch down on the lunar surface approximately 20 minutes later. The spacecraft also carried a "time capsule" containing digital files including a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, the memoirs of a Holocaust survivor, and a blue-and-white Israeli flag. Even Ben-Gurion International Airport joined in the national excitement, listing the little spacecraft on its arrivals board, indicating it was due to land on the moon at 10 p.m. After landing, Beresheet was to take a selfie and send it back to Earth using NASA satellites recruited to assist the Israeli space mission. At least 95,000 viewers tuned in to a live broadcast of the control room on YouTube, and the hundreds of chat messages a minute indicated that they were watching from throughout Israel, the United States and several other countries.

German Newspaper Attacks Netanyahu with Nazi Reference, Blames `Historical Amnesia'

By United with Israel

On Thursday, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper published a piece entitled "The Eternal Netanyahu," making an apparent reference to Fritz Hippler's anti-Semitic 1940 propaganda film "The Eternal Jew." Hippler's movie, which was produced for all intents and purposes by Hitler's minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels, rehashed Jew-hatred based on medieval superstitions, repackaging it for the German people as the moral justification for the Holocaust. The movie is almost universally recognized as one of the most anti-Semitic films ever made. Tuesday's elections in Israel ostensibly was the impetus for the Frankfurter Rundschau article. The newspaper was skewered on Twitter after posting the anti-Netanyahu piece, facing accusations of anti-Semitism and pandering to its left-leaning base of social democrats, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Eventually, the Frankfurter Rundschau recanted, issuing the following statement: "The first version of the title of our editorial on Israel's election results provoked a controversy – and rightly so. We wanted to point to the term of office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and we did not consider that the Nazis in 1940 with the ant-Semitic propaganda film `The Eternal Jew' agitated against Jews," reported the Post. The paper added, "The FR apologizes for the historical amnesia."

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