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This is the last image Israel’s lunar lander took before it crashed into the moon

KEY POINTS

  • Non-profit SpaceIL was aiming to become the first private entity to softly land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface.
  • “We have a failure of the spacecraft … we have not landed successfully,” SpaceIL said on the livestream of the landing attempt.
  • At a cost of about $100 million, the “Beresheet” spacecraft was backed by private donors.

A small lunar lander crashed into the surface of the moon on Thursday, coming just short of the venture’s goal.

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL was aiming to become the first private entity to softly land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface — a feat previously achieved by only three governments in history. SpaceIL confirmed that its robotic “Beresheet” spacecraft was not successful.

“We have a failure of the spacecraft. We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully,” Opher Doron, general manager of the Israel Aerospace Industries space program, said on the SpaceIL’s livestream of the landing attempt.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the crash. He added the prediction that Israel will be successful in two or three years, as “an Israeli spacecraft will land on the moon, whole.”

Beresheet is the Hebrew word for genesis, literally translating as “in the beginning.” The spacecraft traveled for about 4 million miles before reaching the moon. The SpaceIL team showed an image of the spacecraft, taken at about 22 kilometers above the lunar surface as Beresheet began its final approach.

“We are the seventh country to orbit the moon and the fourth to reach the moon’s surface,” Doron said. “It’s a tremendous achievement up to now.”

The only other countries to reach the lunar surface before Israel are the United States, Russia and China. No private entity has safely landed a spacecraft on the moon.

Messages of condolence and congratulations poured in from around the world, as many still hailed the mission as a success for its ambition and accomplishments along the way.

“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,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet.

At a cost of about $100 million, the low-budget lander was backed by private donors, with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries involved as a partner. SpaceIL president and billionaire entrepreneur Morris Kahn personally donated $40 million of the project’s costs. While the mission’s cost was higher than previously expected, Beresheet’s mission came at a fraction of the multibillion-dollar costs of previous government projects.

The SpaceIL project was initially a competitor in the Google Lunar Xprize but that race ended last March with no winners. Although Google withdrew its $20 million prize, the Xprize Foundation had said it would give SpaceIL a $1 million award for the successful lunar landing. The Xprize founder, Peter Diamandis, said his organization would still award the SpaceIL team the $1 million so the team can “continue their work and pursue Beresheet 2.0.”

SpaceX launched Beresheet as a secondary payload on a Falcon 9 rocket in February. The spacecraft traveled for nearly seven weeks before reaching the moon.

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Space

Humans on Mars could become a new species

Image Credit: NASA

Babies born on Mars may be quite unlike those born on Earth. 

An evolutionary biologist has outlined what is likely to happen when people start living full-time on Mars.

Imagine for a moment that mankind has not only achieved a successful manned landing on the Red Planet, but has also constructed a permanent, self-sufficient colony populated by hundreds of people.

In a recent interview with Inverse, Prof Scott Solomon of Rice University, Texas talked about some of the changes and adaptations that humans living in such a colony may start to undergo.

“Evolution is faster or slower depending on how much of an advantage there is to having a certain mutation,” he said. “If a mutation pops up for people living on Mars, and it gives them a 50-percent survival advantage, that’s a huge advantage, right? And that means that those individuals are going to be passing those genes on at a much higher rate than they otherwise would have.”

Martians could, for instance, develop stronger and denser bones to compensate for the lower gravity. They could also end up with a different skin tone to help protect against harmful radiation.

Living in cramped habitation modules could mean that nearsightedness becomes a more common trait, as could the ability to make more efficient use of the available oxygen.

Cut off from the bacteria and viruses found on Earth, the people of Mars may also end up with a weaker immune system that could make intimate encounters with visitors from Earth very risky.

Eventually, given enough time, Mars colonists may even become a whole new species.

Source: Tech Times

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Space

NASA celebrates 50th anniversary of Apollo 10

Image Credit: NASA

Apollo 10 was a complete success.

50 years ago, the Apollo 10 crew flew within 9 miles of the Moon’s surface a mere two months before Apollo 11.

While it was Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who ultimately took the first tentative steps on to the surface of our lunar neighbor, the crew of Apollo 10 had previously come tantalizingly close.

On May 18th 1969, Eugene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford blasted off from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida on what was essentially a ‘dress rehearsal’ for a lunar landing.

Their trip to the Moon was the same as Apollo 11’s in almost every way aside from the fact that, instead of landing, the Apollo Lunar Module only flew to within around 9 miles of the Moon’s surface before returning to the command and service module.

Cernan jokingly claimed that NASA had even taken the precaution of under-fuelling the Lunar Module just in case he and Stafford got any ideas about attempting to land.

“A lot of people thought about the kind of people we were: ‘Don’t give those guys an opportunity to land, ’cause they might!'” said Stafford.

The Apollo 10 crew returned to Earth on May 26th and Apollo 11 launched a mere two months later.

“This is the greatest honor of my life,” Stafford said upon receiving the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. “I am very proud to have contributed to our nation’s future in space and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the beginning of America’s venture into the new and endless frontier.”

Source: Space.com

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Space

Space Force will not be the military branch that repels an alien invasion, officials say

Listen up conspiracy theorists, schizophrenics, and other beloved readers: Some of you out there might have been wondering if Space Force will fight aliens.

Yet only a fool would pose such a question to senior defense officials. Thankfully, your friend and humble Pentagon correspondent is that fool.

During a roundtable on Friday, this reporter asked if Space Force is concerned about threats posed by extraterrestrial intelligence.

The official answer: No.

A December 2018 Defense Intelligence Agency report warns that, “potential adversaries are developing and proliferating a variety of weapons that could disrupt or deny civil and military space services.”

But the report does not mention xenomorphs, Bugs, or Cylons. (This reporter looked.)

Now it is up to Congress to decide whether to approve standing up Space Force as the sixth military service. The last time lawmakers approved the creation of a new military branch was when the Air Force became its own service in 1947.

“We want people to be recruited into the Space Force similar to the way the Marine Corps recruits Marines,” one senior defense official said. “They don’t recruit them into the Navy. They actually go after the specific people with a vision that is necessary to build that culture.”

It has yet to be decided if Space Force will have its own boot camp, officials said. However, ideal Space Force personnel would be able to apply science, technology, engineering, and math skills to warfighting. (Apparently, in space no one eats crayons.)

As currently envisioned, Space Force would fall under the Department of the Air Force. The service would ultimately have about 15,000 service members and civilians, most of whom would likely be transferred from the other services, defense officials said on Friday. The Pentagon estimates that Space Force will cost $2 billion over five years.

“The Space Force will develop forces for: space situational awareness; satellite operations and global, integrated, command and control of military space forces; global and theater military space operations to enable joint campaigns (to include missile warning); space support to land, air, naval, and cyber forces; spacelift and space range operations; space-based nuclear detonation detection; and prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations to achieve space superiority,” according to a strategic overview of the proposed service.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has already said that Space Force would not include rifle squads to seek out and destroy new life forms.

One unresolved question is whether Space Force will have its own uniform, like the other military branches.

“They can,” said a senior defense official, who was unable to say what the Space Force uniform might look like. “That’s an important detail to be worked out in the future.”

Your friend and humble narrator will be following the Space Force uniform issue as it develops.

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