Russia’s Luna-25 Crashes into Moon, India’s Chandrayaan-3 Up Next
Russia's first attempt to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon since 1976 ended in failure on Saturday, when the Luna-25 probe lost control and collided with the lunar surface. The mission was intended to showcase Russia's ability to explore the South Pole of the moon, where water ice and other resources may be found.
According to a Roscosmos statement, an "abnormal situation" occurred as the spacecraft was preparing to enter a pre-landing orbit around the moon. Contact was lost with the probe and it subsequently crashed into the moon. Roscosmos said it had formed a special commission to investigate the reasons behind the failure.
The Luna-25 mission was launched on 11 August 2023, from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia, aboard a Soyuz 2.1 rocket. The spacecraft carried a suite of scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, a laser altimeter, and a drill to collect soil samples. The planned landing site was near the Boguslavsky crater, close to the lunar South Pole.
Failure of Luna-25 is a major setback for Russia's space program, which has suffered from technical problems, budget cuts, and international sanctions in recent years. Russia has not attempted to send a spacecraft beyond Earth's orbit since the Fobos-Grunt mission to Mars in 2011, which failed to escape Earth's gravity and burned up in the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, India is hoping to make history with its own lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, which is scheduled to land near the moon's south pole on August 23. The mission consists of a lander module (Vikram) and a rover module (Pragyan), which will conduct in-situ experiments and explore the lunar terrain. Chandrayaan-3 is India's third lunar mission, following Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. The latter mission achieved orbit insertion but also crashed into the moon.
If successful, Chandrayaan-3 will make India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon, after the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. The mission is supported by NASA and ESA, which are providing tracking and communication services for the lander and rover.
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