Beresheet-Genesis in Hebrew- started as a private attempt by Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL, which Kahn now chairs, to win Google's 10-year space race competition Lunar X Prize.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off his victory in Tuesday's general election, was expected to watch from the control room in Yehud, near Tel Aviv.
"We will not rely on government support", he said.
"SpaceIL, the start-up that functioned for more than eight years to find the spacecraft from the ground, revealed a technical glitch triggered a" series of events" that caused the spacecraft's engine to malfunction Thursday just 14 km (8.7 miles) above the heavens, making it" impossible to stop the spacecraft's velocity". "It's been an unbelievable journey, I hope we get a chance for another one".
The failure was a disappointing ending to a lunar voyage of 6.5 million kilometers (4 million miles), nearly unprecedented in length and created to conserve fuel and reduce price.
The spacecraft hitched a ride on the SpaceX Falcon rocket, launched from Florida in February. The craft also carried a time capsule that contains digital files of the Bible, children's drawings, Israeli folk songs, the recorded memories of a Holocaust survivor, and the Israeli flag.
And though the contest deadline passed past year on March 31, 2018 and the $20 million prize went unclaimed, SpaceIL chose to push forth with the project with the aim of "showing the next generation that anything is possible - that even our small country can push the limits of imagination". Kahn also said the team is meeting this weekend to start planning the new Beresheet 2.0 project.
Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing, engine firings slowed Beresheet's descent.
"What makes it hard is the conditions - the geological and atmospheric conditions are different on the moon and the planets than they are on Earth", McCurdy said.
US President Donald Trump's administration announced in March it was speeding up plans to send American astronauts back to the moon, bringing forward the target date from 2028 to 2024.