(February 26, 2019 / JNS) The “Beresheet” lunar spacecraft’s latest maneuver attempt was postponed after the space craft’s on-board computer executed an unexpected independent restart, causing the device to miss a scheduled trajectory adjustment, according to engineers on Tuesday.
According to SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby, the glitch “isn’t nice, but we are still optimistic.”
The device evidently did not encounter this problem in simulations,. However, it is still scheduled to land on the moon on April 11, 2019, due to built-in time buffers put into the schedule in case of delays.
The setback occurred after a successful first maneuver the day before tens of thousands of miles away from Earth.
The spacecraft’s trajectory will take it six or seven times around the Earth in a series of growing ellipses before entering the moon’s orbit on April 4. The pathway was designed to help the craft save on fuel.
Engineers said all the communication windows are working as expected, enabling contact with “Beresheet” for about half an hour every four hours.
The last maneuver failed to initiate. Engineers are investigating whether the computer restart was connected to some issues with the star navigation system, possibly resulting from glare from the sun, which helps the craft orient itself in space.
“Beresheet,” named after the first word and the first book in the Torah (meaning “in the beginning”), lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 22. If it succeeds, it will be the first Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon, as well as the first privately owned craft to do so.