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Thursday 11 April 2019

SpaceIL lands on the Moon... really, really hard.... ... but well done to them anyway!

My sympathies and congratulations to the SpaceIL team on the VERY hard landing of their Beresheet spacecraft on the Moon: The main engine cut out towards the end of the landing attempt - the engineers actually got it back online, but Beresheet had lost to much height and gained too much speed. The last recorded signal, as the engine came back, was still 100 meters up... but doing 150 meters a second. Just not enough distance to pull out of the dive. Even so, well done to them! To get so close is an astounding achievement, they still made their country the 4th nation to reach the lunar surface (although it was a private mission), and they really did fight it right to the finish - that was one of the most nailbiting 30 minutes of tweets I've ever read! 
Roll on Beresheet 2? 
Well... there's a good write up of the attempt here and it mentions the possibility. The ship took images (not great quality) before and during the attempt to land, which I've added below: 

On an even more successful note, SpaceX has launched it's super sized Falcon Heavy rocket for the second time, putting satellite cargo into orbit. What makes this a bigger achievement than a usual rocket launch is that the rocket, or at least the lower three quarters of it, has been landed afterwards for re-use! There're lots of cool pictures here, I've included a photo montage of the boosters landing seperately below, and I'll get a video up as soon as I can locate one that shows the whole launch end-to-end.

Saturday 6 April 2019

Juno snaps a storm on Jupiter, Israeli Moon missions nears landing, India's space weapon and more...

A cyclonic storm churns through Jupiter's northern hemisphere in this new view from NASA's Juno spacecraft. The swirling cloud formation looks a lot like a hurricane on Earth, with fluffy clouds popping up from the storm's spiral arms. Juno captured this view with its JunoCam imager on Feb. 12, when it was about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops. — Hanneke Weitering