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Israel Lander Crashes Into Moon, Dashing Hopes of Historic Mission

The main engine failed a few kilometers above the surface, controllers say.  

The lunar spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) sits during a presentation by SpaceIL.

The lunar spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) sits during a presentation by SpaceIL.

Photographer: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

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Israel failed to become the first nation to land a privately financed spacecraft on the moon when “Beresheet” crashed before a scheduled touch down in the Sea of Tranquility late Thursday night.

The main engine failed a few kilometers above the surface, leaving nothing to slow the craft’s descent, said Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.’s space division. The $100 million project was a joint venture between a private company, SpaceIL, and state-owned IAI, financed mostly by philanthropists including SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, a founder of Amdocs Ltd., and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.