You Win Some, You Lose Some (Falcon Heavy / Beresheet)


  1. Successful Falcon Heavy launch...
  2. ...Failed Beresheet moon landing

I don't typically post back to back days, but it's been a huge week for space and I just couldn't wait! On top of the first ever picture of a black hole, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket for the second time. If you're not familiar with SpaceX's rockets, their main workhorse is the Falcon 9. The Falcon Heavy is basically three Falcon 9's strapped together and is the most powerful rocket in operation today

You may recall the first launch last February, but that was just a test launch that put Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster into orbit as a dummy payload. This was the first Falcon Heavy mission with an actual customer - a communications satellite by Saudi Arabian company Arabsat that'll provide internet to parts of the Middle East and Africa. 

Other improvements SpaceX added to this version of the Falcon Heavy (known as Block 5) versus last year's test launch - it provides 10% more thrust and includes structural upgrades such as titanium grid fins and a better heat shield that make it cheaper and easier to reuse. And most importantly, this launch recovered all three boosters! The test launch only recovered the two that landed on land; the center stage was supposed to land on SpaceX's ocean drone ship but missed!

See below for the full video, it's awesome!!!

But not everyone had a good day out and about the cosmos. You may recall that an Israeli nonprofit named SpaceIL launched a lunar lander named Beresheet in February, and today was the day it was supposed to land on the lunar surface and make Israel just the fourth country to reach the moon (after the Soviet Union, the US, and China). 

However, the spacecraft was only 489 ft from the lunar surface when its engine, needed to slow the spacecraft down as it glided to the surface, suddenly failed. Ground control lost communications as Beresheet crashed into the Moon. The probe was meant to perform a whole range of scientific experiments on the surface.

One of the last images Beresheet returned before crashing, just a few miles over the lunar surface

Despite the failure, the mission was commendable for being done so cheaply by such a small country and for getting so close to achieving its goal. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was impressed as he watched the landing attempt - "if at first you don't succeed, you try again."

No comments