Israeli Moon Lander Hits Serious Glitch in Orbit
It's not the first problem the world's first commercial lunar lander has encountered so far.
A Bumpy Road
After finding problems with its sensitive “star tracker” navigation system, the Israeli lunar lander Beresheet ran into another serious glitch after its first maneuver: engineers at Israeli space organization SpaceIL found that the on-board computer rebooted unexpectedly, Haaretz reports.
The 1,290 pound lander deployed from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last week. Shortly afterward, it sent its first signals back to Earth as part of a first round of in-orbit tests.
The on-board computer was supposed to control a three minute engine fire that would take the lander farther away from Earth on its months-long trip to the Moon. But then something unexpected happened.
“At this stage, the spacecraft’s computer conducted an independent reset, so the maneuver was cancelled,” SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby said in a press conference call, as quoted by Haaretz.
Long Journey Ahead
Beresheet will fly in a massive elliptical spiral around the Earth, slowly easing into the Moon’s gravitational pull. Landing on the moon is scheduled for early April.
The computer reboot means that Beresheet didn’t move itself further away from Earth — it’s not yet clear how much of a setback this will be for the team or how far the missing maneuver will postpone the eventual Moon landing.
According to the team of engineers, orbital maneuver plans allowed for a couple of days of delays, so it might still land on the lunar surface on schedule.
Engineers are still hoping to catch up with the maneuver once they figure out what the cause of the reboot was.
If all still goes according to plan, SpaceIL’s lunar lander could become the first commercial spacecraft to land on the Moon.
READ MORE: A Bumpy Ride to the Moon: Israeli Spacecraft Hits Technical Snag [Haaretz]
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