A Crash Landing is Still Technically a Landing: Remembering Israel’s Space Program on the Yahrtzeit of Beresheet


Today, April 11th, we observe the second yahrtzeit of Beresheet – the small, determined, and inspiring robotic-lunar-lander-that-could that was set to be Israel’s debut on the Moon.

Beresheet was built by a team from SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, and set many records with graceful purpose: she made Israel the seventh country to orbit the Moon and the fourth to reach it, and was both the smallest lunar lander and the first non-governmental mission to the Moon.

In February of 2019, Beresheet bravely launched from the historic shores of Cape Canaveral and traveled unfalteringly for nearly two months before she began her spirited descent. Unfortunately, on April 11, 2019, at only 150 meters away from the surface of the Moon, Beresheet lost communication with the control center. As the world watched, our pertinacious voyager crashed, not to be heard from again.

But, look, okay, here’s the thing — a crash landing is still a landing, right?

And despite that night two years ago feeling like a heart-rending disappointing failure for Zionist space nerds everywhere, there is still (a pile of remnants of) an Israeli flag on the Moon! And that’s pretty damn cool! The only other countries to land on the Moon are the US, Russia, and China — just a bunch of rich dorks — so it’s about time an underdog got into the race.

You know what else is awesome? If you were thinking “Beresheet’s payload,” then you’re absolutely correct. Our plucky little spacecraft was carrying 30 million pages of data, including the entire Wikipedia, the Torah, memoirs of a Holocaust survivor, and the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Your Apollos could never!

So today, on this second anniversary of the passing of a true Jewish hero, I implore you: when you look up at that lovely silver sphere hanging in the sky (what Shakespeare once called a “moist star.” Yeah, look it up.) don’t think, “I can’t believe Israel crashed its lunar probe and embarrassed itself on a universal level,” or even “oh, hey, the Moon looks nice tonight, but I wish someone would explain to me what it actually has to do with the tides” – instead, smile to yourself and think, “there’s an Israeli flag up there, kinda! They did it!”

Beresheet’s life was tragically cut short, but in the little time that we knew her, she still managed to teach us about hope, perseverance, technological breakthroughs, and the power of Jewish philanthropists. In other words, she was an Israeli success story. Beresheet, you’re gone, but never forgotten; rubble, but never rubbish. You may have crash landed on the moon, but in doing so, you crash landed into our hearts.

Note: Follow SpaceIL for more updates on Beresheet 2.

Feature image via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spacecraft_03.jpg

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