Friday, April 12, 2019

Israel's Beresheet Spacecraft Crashes on Moon But SpaceX Lands all Three Falcon Heavy Rocket Boosters for the First Time

          By Henry Stewart

As noted by Israeli Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the one obvious takeaway from yesterday's two major pieces of space news was, "if at first you don't succeed, try try again."

Netanyahu made the comment in a control room near Tel Aviv, after watching the attempted landing of the Beresheet (Hebrew for "in the beginning") lunar lander. The attempt was a joint project between SpaceIL, a privately funded Israeli non-profit organization, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel's government owned primary aerospace and aviation manufacturer.

As outlined in the April 11th, 2019 BBC News post, "Israel's Beresheet spacecraft crashes on Moon," the first privately funded mission to the Moon has crashed on the lunar surface after the apparent failure of its main engine during decent.

As noted in the article, so far only government space agencies from the former Soviet Union, the US and China have made successful Moon landings.

A little later on the same day and as outlined in the April 11th, 2019 The Verge post, "SpaceX lands all three Falcon Heavy rocket boosters for the first time ever," Hawthorne CA based SpaceX managed to soft-land all three of the rocket’s booster cores after completing its primary mission of boosting the Arabsat 6A communications satellite into orbit for Riyadh based Arabsat.

As noted in the article:
SpaceX first tried these landings a little more than four years ago with its Falcon 9 rocket boosters. The first attempt at sea (in January 2015) ended in a spectacular fireball after the booster slammed into the drone ship, video of which SpaceX released on Vine. The second attempted landing was in April 2015, and the booster almost made it, but ultimately tipped over and exploded. 
SpaceX landed its first rocket booster in December 2015 at Cape Canaveral on the original concrete landing pad. From there, it took three more tries to stick one of the sea landings. But between that point and last year’s inaugural Falcon Heavy launch, SpaceX rattled off 20 successful landings with just one failure. And since last year’s first Falcon Heavy launch, the company has only had one unsuccessful booster landing.
SpaceIl and the Israeli's seem to know the lesson SpaceX obviously knew in 2015, when their first few attempts to land a reusable rocket met with less than stellar success and they kept going.

They will continue to try and try again. It's a lesson we should all be reminded.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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