Israeli moon mission makes orbit ahead of Sea of Serenity landing SpaceX sends Israel’s historic moon mission on its way Originally published April 11, 12:32 p.m. PT.Update, 6:40 p.m. PT: Adds traditional information regarding X Prize and Beresheet’s final image. The failed mission will be remembered as bittersweet.”Well, we didn’t make it, but we definitely tried, and the achievement of getting where we got is really tremendous,” said Morris Khan, an Israeli entrepreneur who provided a large portion of the funding for Beresheet, as he addressed the observers near the control room. “We can be proud.”NASA commended the mission in a tweet: “We congratulate SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit.” Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 pilot, also had kind words. “Never lose hope. Your hard work, teamwork, and innovation is inspiring to all,” he tweeted. While @NASA regrets the end of the @TeamSpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing, we congratulate SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit. https://t.co/XwHpN5M8Pu pic.twitter.com/cfMtP4srDr— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 11, 2019 4:13 Beresheet launched on Feb. 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and overcame a brief technical glitch along the way. The lander was designed to take pictures of its surroundings and measure the moon’s magnetic field. It was even able to snap one final, breathtaking image as it approached the lunar surface and beam it back to Earth.SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had placed a time capsule in the lander filled with digital files covering Israel’s history and heritage. That time capsule was likely lost along with the spacecraft. The dream didn’t quite come to fruition, but Beresheet’s journey to lunar orbit was still an important moment in space history that made the moon feel more in reach for the world. Although SpaceIL didn’t quite make the deadline, the X Prize foundation was inspired by its attempt, creating a new prize dubbed the Moonshot Award. Originally, the foundation stated “for their achievement upon landing on the moon”, X Prize would hand SpaceIL the first Moonshot Award — and $1 million.Of course, Beresheet did not make it to the surface in one piece but it did still land — albeit with a little more force than hoped. As a result, the foundation said it would still be providing SpaceIL with the cash. Beresheet snapped this partial selfie during its approach to the moon. SpaceIL/IAI Israel’s Beresheet would have been the most unlikely lunar lander in history, but the spacecraft didn’t survive its reach for the moon’s surface Thursday.SpaceIL’s live broadcast followed the tense maneuvers needed to get the lunar lander down to the Sea of Serenity on the near side of the moon. The Beresheet team members worked in the control room as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched from a spectator area.The landing process suffered some glitches when the main engine cut out and mission control lost communication. The disappointed team reacted calmly to the failure. Super blood wolf moon lunar eclipse dazzles in striking photos 2 They may not have had a successful landing this time, but @TeamSpaceIL has still made history. They will be the recipients of our first ever $1M Moonshot Award, in honor of their achievements and their milestone as the first privately-funded entity to orbit the Moon. 🌒 #moonshot pic.twitter.com/ErUfjqvvxY— XPRIZE (@xprize) April 11, 2019 Beresheet aims for the moon Share your voice This was a mission of firsts. Beresheet was to be Israel’s first moon lander, which would have put the country in an exclusive club that includes the US, Soviet Union and China. In addition, nonprofit SpaceIL would have been the first private, nongovernment group to set a lander on the moon’s surface.SpaceIL was originally conceived to compete in Google’s Lunar X Prize which, in 2007, threw down a challenge to private companies to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. The original deadline to claim the $30 million in prize money was originally 2014, but it was extended out until 2018 before an announcement that the prize would go unclaimed. Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashes on the moon Comments Now playing: Watch this: Space Tags Sci-Tech 12 Photos
Indian people hold placards and photographs of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, as they celebrate the announcement of his soon release, in Amritsar on 28 February 2019. Photo: AFPPakistan was set to free a captured Indian pilot Friday in a “peace gesture” aimed at lowering temperatures with its nuclear arch-rival, after rare aerial raids ignited fears of a dangerous conflict in South Asia.Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who has become the face of the crisis between Islamabad and New Delhi, will be handed back to Indian officials at the Wagah border crossing on Friday afternoon, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.In New Delhi the announcement of his release was seen as a diplomatic victory, with Indian leaders welcoming the pilot’s return but announcing they would remain on “heightened” military alert, showing little sign of de-escalating the rivalry.Abhinandan was shot down over Kashmir on Wednesday, after a dogfight in the skies over the disputed Himalayan region which sent tensions between India and Pakistan to their highest levels in years and alarmed world powers, who issued calls for restraint.”As the prime minister has said, as a peace gesture and to de-escalate matters, the Indian pilot will be released. So today, this afternoon, he will be released at Wagah,” Qureshi told a joint session of parliament Friday.A diplomatic source told AFP the handover was expected between 3:00-4:00pm Pakistani time (1000-1100 GMT).The Wagah crossing gate is famed for hosting an elaborate daily ceremony by Indian and Pakistani soldiers at sundown. Thousands of people had already gathered on the Indian side early Friday to welcome the pilot home, an AFP journalist said.The pilot’s parents travelled to Amritsar, near Wagah, via Delhi late last night and were applauded by all the passengers on the plane they travelled on, TV footage showed.Media on the Pakistani side were being stopped by authorities around 1.5 kilometres (a mile) from the border.The surging tensions had prompted Pakistan to close down its airspace, disrupting major routes between Europe and South Asia and grounding thousands of travellers worldwide.On Friday morning the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced a decision would be taken on re-opening airspace “shortly”. Earlier it had said flights would remain grounded until at least 1.00pm Friday local time (0800 GMT).#WelcomeBackAbhiPakistani students hold placards with the image of Abhinandan Varthaman, the Indian Air Force pilot captured by Pakistan authorities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on 27 February and shout anti-India slogans during a protest in Lahore on 28 February 2019. Photo: AFPThe latest confrontation between the neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence in 1947, erupted after a suicide bombing in Indian-held Kashmir killed 40 Indian troops on February 14, with the attack claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.Twelve days later Indian warplanes launched a strike inside undisputed Pakistani territory, claiming to have hit a militant camp.It was the first such aerial raid since their last war in 1971 — before either country had nuclear weapons.An infuriated Islamabad denied casualties or damage, but a day later launched its own incursion across the Line of Control, the de facto Kashmir border.That sparked the dogfight that ended in both countries claiming they had shot down each other’s warplanes, and Abhinandan’s capture.Residents on either side of the LoC also reported heavy shelling, which continued into the early hours Friday.Analysts said the pilot could prove to be Islamabad’s trump card, but prime minister Imran Khan unexpectedly announced Thursday that he would be released a day later in the first sign of a potential thaw.Khan alluded to the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war and called for talks, even as he warned India should not take the announcement as a sign of weakness.With the pilot attaining hero status and the hashtag #WelcomeBackAbhi swiftly trending on social media, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi called on his citizens to “stand as a wall” in the face of an enemy that “seeks to destabilise India”.The last time an Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan, in 1999, the handover was facilitated by the Red Cross (ICRC), who met flight lieutenant K Nachiketa at the Pakistani foreign office in Islamabad before escorting him to the Indian high commission overnight.He left for India that same day.On Friday a Red Cross spokesman told AFP the aid organisation is “ready to provide any assistance necessary”, but so far “is not involved” in Abhinandan’s return.Kashmir is ruled in part but claimed in full by both India and Pakistan. Two of their three wars have been fought over the territory.