The first attempt by a private company to land a probe on the Moon's surface ended in failure on Thursday when the vehicle crashed minutes before landing.
On Wednesday, the lander made a manoeuvre to lower its altitude for a lunar orbit of between nine and 124 miles while preparing for the landing.
The lander is equipped with a single British-built LEROS 2b engine fueled by MMH (monomethylhydrazine) and Monday (mixed oxides of nitrogen) for major maneuvers and the landing itself, along with small thrusters at the bottom of the craft. "We actually had the pleasure to launch our spacecraft with SpaceX, which I think is also an awesome example of this, and now we're taking that to a new level, being the first private organization to reach the moon and hopefully land there".
There are another four commercial launches for the Heavy already planned, including one for the United States military and failure would cast a cloud over that.
Spirits were dashed at mission control and viewing parties as the mission was declared a failure.
"Space is hard, but worth the risks. And we really are making this dream come true". "We'll send lots of videos and images to inspire the kids in Israel and all around the world".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was on hand for what organisers had hoped to be a celebration, was pragmatic about the disappointing end to the mission. They were going for it.
And project team members have met with more than 1 million Israeli schoolkids over the past eight years, taking the space-exploration message to the young masses.
"We're taking the lander to market", said Meir Nissim Nir, director of advanced space systems at IAI, during a presentation at Microsymposium 60 lunar exploration workshop last month outside Houston.
"For me it actually started on Facebook when a friend wrote to me saying he wanted to open the Israeli team to compete in the X Prize", Damari said. "I'd also like to see that I've used it in a way that I enjoy".
"We are full of admiration for the wonderful people who brought the spacecraft to the moon", Rivlin said. "It nearly seems un-doable, and even if it was doable, it takes somebody with imagination to actually see why you would do it".
But, he added, "While it failed to land successfully, overall it was a path-breaking and innovative project". When adjusted for inflation, that sum is roughly US$3.5 billion today - about US$500 million per mission.
It was expected to land in the Sea of Serenity, on the northern hemisphere of the moon's near side. It's a dark lava-covered site of an ancient volcanic eruption, a source of magnetic and gravitational anomalies, and - in popular culture - the left eye of the "man in the Moon".
An illustration shows the Beresheet lander, the moon and the Earth.
NASA broadcast the landing attempt live on its dedicated TV channels, as well as online.
IAI has expressed an interest in using that platform for future missions.
The mission was far from a total failure, though.
Israel's Beresheet would have been the most unlikely lunar lander in history, but the spacecraft didn't survive its reach for the moon's surface Thursday.
Kahn told Business Insider before Beresheet's launch that there was "no guarantee" the mission would succeed.