Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years failed to crash into the moon

An image from the camera of the lunar lander Luna-25 shows the Zeeman crater on the far side of the moon on August 17, 2023. Roscosmos/Handout REUTERS/File Photo Get license rights

  • Russia’s mission to the moon failed
  • Luna-25 crashed into the moon
  • Failure would be a blow to Russian space prestige

MOSCOW, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years failed when its Luna-25 spacecraft spun out of control and crashed into the moon after problems preparing for orbit before landing. A once powerful space program.

Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos, said it lost contact with the ship at 11:57 GMT on Saturday after a problem with the plane’s pre-landing orbit stall. A soft landing was planned for Monday.

“The apparatus drifted into an unpredictable orbit and came to a halt as a result of a collision with the lunar surface,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

A special interagency commission was formed to investigate the reasons behind the loss of the Luna-25 craft, whose mission raised hopes in Moscow that a major power was returning to the lunar race.

The defeat underscored the decline of Russia’s space power since the glory days of the Cold War rivalry, when Moscow first launched a satellite into Earth orbit — Sputnik 1, 1957 — and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. In 1961.

Russia’s $2 trillion economy faces its biggest external challenge in decades: fighting Western sanctions and the biggest land war in Europe since World War II.

Russia has not attempted a lunar mission since Luna-24 in 1976, when Leonid Brezhnev reigned in the Kremlin.

Russia is racing against India, which is scheduled to land the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon’s south pole this week.

“India’s Chandrayaan-3 to land on Moon on August 23,” the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) posted on X, earlier on Twitter, around the time news of the Luna accident broke.

The moonshot failed

Despite the post-Soviet collapse and the huge cost of the war in Ukraine, Russian officials believed that the Luna-25 mission would enable Russia to compete with superpowers in space.

“The flight control system is a vulnerable area that has had to undergo several fixes,” said Anatoly Zak, creator and publisher of www.RussianSpaceWeb.com, which tracks Russian space programs.

Zach said Russia also went for a more ambitious moon landing before making a simple orbital mission, a routine practice for the Soviet Union, the United States, China and India.

A decade earlier, the failed 2011 Phobos-Grunt mission to one of Mars’ moons underscored the challenges facing Russia’s space program: It failed to even leave Earth’s orbit and fell back to Earth, crashing into the Pacific Ocean. 2012.

Eventually, in the early 2010s, Russia settled on the idea of ​​a Luna-25 mission to the Moon’s South Pole. Luna-25 managed to exit Earth orbit.

But its failure means Russia won’t be the first sample of what scientists believe is frozen water at the moon’s south pole.

It was not immediately clear what long-term impact the failed mission would have on the country’s lunar program, which expects many more missions in the coming years.

Reporting by Guy Falconbridge in New Delhi Additional reporting by YP Rajesh Editing by Christina Fincher and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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As Moscow bureau chief, Guy runs coverage of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Prior to Moscow, Guy ran Brexit coverage as London Bureau Chief (2012-2022). On the night of Brexit, his team delivered one of Reuters’ historic successes – breaking the news of Brexit first to the world and financial markets. Guy graduated from the London School of Economics and began his career as an intern at Bloomberg. He spent more than 14 years covering the former Soviet Union. He speaks fluent Russian. Contact: +447825218698

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