Israel’s attempt at a moon landing failed at the last minute on Thursday when the craft suffered an engine failure as it prepared to land and apparently crashed onto the lunar surface.
“We didn’t make it, but we definitely tried,” project originator and major backer Morris Kahn said in a live videocast from mission control near Tel Aviv.
“The spacecraft Beresheet did not successfully complete its landing on the moon,” an onscreen message said.
The unmanned robotic lander suffered periodic engine and communications failures during the 21 minutes or so of the landing sequence, the support team said.
Beresheet had travelled through space for seven weeks in a series of expanding orbits around Earth before crossing into the moon's gravity last week.
The final maneuver on Wednesday brought it into a tight elliptical orbit around the moon, 15-17 km (9-10.5 miles) from the surface at its closest.
So far, only three nations have succeeded in carrying out a “soft” landing on the lunar surface: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.