Russia’s ambitious unmanned lunar mission has met a tragic end as its Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon’s surface. This marked Russia’s first attempt to reach the Moon in nearly half a century. The spacecraft was the first ever to land on the Moon’s south pole. Scientists believe this region may contain frozen water and valuable elements. However, the mission encountered problems as it approached its pre-landing orbit, failing.
According to Roscosmos, Russia’s state space corporation lost contact with the Luna-25 shortly after 14:57 pm (11:57 GMT) on Saturday. Preliminary investigations have revealed that the 800kg lander collided with the Moon’s surface, causing it to “cease to exist.” Roscosmos has announced the formation of a special commission. This commission will investigate the reasons behind the mission’s failure.
This setback is a significant blow to Roscosmos. The organization has witnessed a decline in its civilian space program over the years due to the increasing focus on military funding. Russia had been racing against India. India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will expectedly land on the Moon’s south pole in the coming days. India’s mission aims to explore rock formations and craters, searching for water and other vital resources. The Moon’s south pole, due to its perpetual shadow, holds the potential for containing vast amounts of water.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) expressed its disappointment over the Luna-25 crash, calling it “unfortunate.” They emphasized the high risks and technical challenges associated with space missions. Isro also expressed their sympathy towards the Russian team.
Even Roscosmos had acknowledged the potential risks of the Luna-25 mission. The spacecraft was launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur region on August 11. It successfully entered the Moon’s orbit earlier this week. It was expected to achieve a historic soft landing on Monday or Tuesday, just days before India’s scheduled landing. While the US and China have previously made successful landings on the Moon’s surface, no country has ever reached the south pole.
Luna-25 was Russia’s first Moon mission since 1976. This was during the time of the Soviet Union, when Luna-24 landed successfully. Despite the tragic outcome, this setback highlights the challenges and inherent risks in exploring the vast unknowns beyond our planet.