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Beresheet looking back at the Earth after launch in March. Photo: SpaceIL/IAI

The Israeli Beresheet lunar lander didn't stick its potentially historic moon landing on Thursday, suffering from a main engine failure in the final moments of its descent.

Why it matters: Had it not crashed, the lander would have been the first privately funded spacecraft to land on the moon's surface and the first for Israel. In spite of the landing's failure this history-making mission shows that space is slowly but surely becoming more and more accessible.

The big picture: SpaceIL — the non-profit behind the mission — wasn't backed by a government, but instead raised money for the mission through donations from wealthy philanthropists. Only the U.S., China and Russia have successfully soft-landed on the moon. The mission also highlights just how difficult it is to successfully launch a relatively inexpensive mission to the moon.

  • SpaceIL originally conceived of the mission to compete for the Google Lunar X Prize — a $30 million contest to encourage private industry to pave a commercially-sustainable path to the moon. That contest ended without a winner in 2018.

Before its failed landing, the lander sent back this selfie.

What they're saying: Newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on hand for the landing. "If at first you don't succeed, you try again," Netanyahu said after the mission's failure.

  • "We didn't make it, but we definitely tried," Morris Kahn, one of Beresheet's financial backers, said.
  • "Space is hard, but worth the risks. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward," NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said on Twitter. "It’s when we keep trying that we inspire others and achieve greatness. Thank you for inspiring us @TeamSpaceIL. We’re looking forward to future opportunities to explore the Moon together."

The spacecraft was carrying the Israeli flag along with the slogan, "Small Country, Big Dreams." It also had a NASA instrument aboard.

Go deeper:

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Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.