In Brief

Science Channel Chronicles Israel's 1st Moon Mission in Documentary Tonight

A new documentary tonight (April 15) from Science Channel follows SpaceIL's Beresheet mission, the Israeli moon lander that failed and crashed into the lunar surface last week.

"Return to the Moon: Seconds to Arrival" will air for an hour starting at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT, and it will track the development and journey of the spacecraft. Beresheet was developed originally in 2011 for the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which offered more than $20 million to privately-funded teams that were able to land on the moon and complete various milestones. Although the X Prize competition closed without declaring a winner in 2018, SpaceIL and the aerospace and defense company Israeli Aerospace Industries continued to work on the spacecraft.

Beresheet would have been the smallest spacecraft to ever land on the moon  — and the first not sent by by the Soviet Union, the United States or China.

Despite its failure, the Beresheet mission will still win a special $1 million award from the X Prize organization. And billionaire businessman Morris Kahn, who is president of SpaceIL, has already declared the team is going to build a second lander and try again.

A clip from the documentary, above, details how the spacecraft tracked the stars to make its way to the moon and the risky maneuver to get into lunar orbit. The film was produced by Discovery Studios for Discovery and Science Channel, according to a statement from Science Channel.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.