The world's first private lunar lander has hit a snag en route to the moon.
On Monday (Feb. 25), the Beresheet moon lander built by the Israeli startup SpaceIL missed a planned maneuver to steer the spacecraft along its eight-week journey to the lunar surface. The maneuver was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. EST (12 a.m. local time on Tuesday in Israel) as Beresheet orbited the Earth out of communications range with its mission control center.
"During the pre-maneuver phase the spacecraft computer reset unexpectedly, causing the maneuver to be automatically cancelled," SpaceIL representatives said in a statement. "The engineering teams of SpaceIL and IAI are examining the data and analyzing the situation. At this time, the spacecraft's systems are working well, except for the known problem in the star tracker." Star trackers are used by the spacecraft to help orient itself in space with respect to target stars.
SpaceIL's Beresheet lander launched toward the moon Thursday (Feb. 21) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft is the first privately developed lander launched to the moon and is scheduled to land on the moon's Mare Serenitatis ("Sea of Serenity") on April 11. Beresheet is taking a long route to the lunar surface, firing its engine during each loop around the Earth to gradually raise its orbit to reach the moon.