A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon

It was just before midnight on April 11 and everyone at the Israel Aerospace Industries mission control center in Yehud, Israel, had their eyes fixed on two large projector screens. On the left screen was a stream of data being sent back to Earth by Beresheet, its lunar lander, which was about to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. The right screen featured a crude animation of Beresheet firing its engines as it prepared for a soft landing in the Sea of Serenity. But only seconds before the scheduled landing, the numbers on the left screen stopped. Mission control had lost contact with the spacecraft, and it crashed into the moon shortly thereafter. Half a world …

A WIRED Booklovers Guide to the Moon

This story is part of a series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Humanity had yet to set foot on the moon in 1968, but Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke were already envision­ing commercial space liners and a lunar research base on the big screen. Like many sci-fi films, 2001: A Space Odyssey undershot the timeline a bit. It’s been nearly 48 years since human beings last left low-Earth orbit to visit the moon’s surface, but if you’ve sensed a resurgence in spacebound hopefulness, you’re not a lunatic. At the annual meeting of the National Space Council in March, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return to the moon within the next five years, and …