Today, SpaceIL's unmanned craft Beresheet crashed during a live feed of the descent on Thursday and was deemed a total loss. Only seven nations have orbited the Moon, which means Israel still has a feather for its proverbial cap - just not the one it intended.
Beresheet is the smallest spacecraft ever to be sent to the moon.
The mishap occurred in front of a packed audience that included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was broadcast live on national television.
The spacecraft aimed to perform a soft landing on the moon and would have made Israel the fourth country to do so - and by far the smallest. "And that caused an unfortunate chain of events we're not sure about", he said, according to the AP report.
The spacecraft lost communication with ground control and powered off during its final descent.
The failed mission will be remembered as bittersweet.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted dozens of youngsters at his official residence for the launch. If we succeeded every time, there would be no reward.
Its frame held a time capsule of digital files the size of coins containing the Bible, children's drawings, dictionaries in 27 languages, Israeli songs, as well as memories of a Holocaust survivor.
This Dec. 17, 2018, file photo shows the SpaceIL lunar module in a special "clean room" during a press tour of their facility near Tel Aviv, Israel. It was the first privately funded mission to the moon. In October 2015, SpaceIL became the first Lunar X-Prize entrant to secure a launch contract, which kept the competition going with the new deadline for completion set for December 2017.
SpaceIL spokespeople say the team is eager to get started on Beresheet 2.0. It cost just $100 million to plan and develop, whereas other space missions in the past have run in the billions of dollars.
"The second I heard their dream, I wanted to support it", said Kahn. "That's all we know". Finally, they announced the loss of the spacecraft, bringing the mission to a undesired end. It's been reported, based on information from the livestream, that an Inertial Measurement Unit failed and the team was unable to reset the component due to a repeated loss of communications with the JPL network.
"And here we are eight years later with a project with a budget of nearly $100 million".
Phil Larson of the University of Colorado, who was a space adviser in the Obama White House, said the Israeli effort underlines that "space is still extremely hard, and landing human made objects on other worlds is an utmost challenge". "Hopefully, when the landing is successful, we'll have so much joy in our veins that the challenges and problems we've had to overcome will look different".