Russia’s first mission to the moon since 1976 has crashed into the lunar surface and been destroyed.
It had been due to land at the moon’s south pole today, Monday 21 August, just days ahead of India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Twitter will land on Wednesday, August 23.
Russian space agency Roskosmos revealed it had lost contact with the $200 million Luna-25 at 19:57 EDT on Saturday, August 19, according to Reuters. It has already created a commission to investigate what happened.
‘Ceased To Exist’
After entering the moon’s orbit last Wednesday it appears to have failed to get into the right position pre-launch, leading inevitably to a crash. “The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon,” read a statement from Roskosmos.
Luna-25 had been expected to become the first spacecraft ever to land on the south pole of the moon, a region thought to host permanently shadowed craters where frozen water exists. That water could make the south pole ideal for a moon base.
All Eyes Turn To India
The moon’s south pole is also the target of both Chandrayaan-3 and NASA’s Artemis-3 missions.
Only the U.S. and China have successfully landed anywhere on the moon—but India could soon join that roll-call if Chandrayaan-3 is successful.
Luna-25 launched atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Oblast of Russia’s Far East on August 11, 2023. It came 47 years after Luna-24, which landed successfully on the moon’s Mare Crisium region on August 18, 1976.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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