The first private moon mission just failed to land and crashed into the lunar surface

beresheet israeli moon lander robot payload close up spaceilThe &quotBeresheet" lunar robot designed and built by SpaceIL. If it lands successfully, the robot could make Israel the fourth country ever to softly land on the moon's surface.SpaceIL

Nearly two months after its commercial launch, a privately funded spacecraft built by an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL has ended in failure.

The dishwasher-size robot, called Beresheet (a biblical reference that means "in the beginning") attempted to pull off the first private moon landing on Thursday around 3:25 p.m. EDT. Had the mission been successful, it would have made Israel the fourth nation ever to have a spacecraft survive a lunar-landing attempt.

However, its main engine failed during the landing maneuver. By the time mission controllers rebooted the spacecraft to try and tried to restart the engine, according to a live broadcast of the event, it was too late.

"Beresheet crashed on the surface of the moon after the main engine broke down," Eylon Levy, a journalist for i24NEWS, tweeted after the failure.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA's science mission directorate, commented on the failure shortly after it occurred.

"Space is hard, but worth the risks. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward," Zurbuchen tweeted. "It's when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness. Thank you for inspiring us @TeamSpaceIL. We're looking forward to future opportunities to explore the Moon together."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was present at the launch, also commented on the failure during a livestream of the landing attempt."If at first you don't succeed, try again," he said.

This is a developing story.

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