An image taken by Israel spacecraft, Beresheet, upon its landing on the moon [Space IL/Handout via Reuters]

An Israeli spacecraft has crashed into the moon moments before touchdown, failing in an ambitious attempt to make history as the first privately funded lunar landing.

Around 20 minutes before the scheduled landing on Thursday, engine firings slowed Beresheet’s descent. Engineers watched in silence as the craft, its movements streamed live on dozens of screens, glided toward a free-fall.

The spacecraft lost communication with ground control during its final descent. Moments later, the mission was declared a failure.

“We definitely crashed on the surface of the moon,” said Opher Doron of Israel Aerospace Industries.

He said the spacecraft’s engine turned off shortly before landing, and scientists

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