After a hiatus of 47 years, Russia’s initial lunar mission faced a setback when its Luna-25 spacecraft lost control and ultimately crashed into the moon. The mishap was attributed to challenges encountered while preparing for pre-landing orbit maneuvers. This unfortunate event underscores the fading influence of what was once a robust space program, showcasing the evolving landscape during the post-Soviet era.
Russia’s state space corporation, Roskosmos, reported the loss of communication with the Luna-25 spacecraft at 11:57 GMT on Saturday, during its transition into pre-landing orbit, thwarting plans for a gentle landing scheduled for Monday.
According to a statement by Roskosmos, the craft veered into an erratic orbit and subsequently met its end by colliding with the moon’s surface.
In response to this incident, a dedicated inter-departmental commission has been formed to delve into the causes of the Luna-25’s demise. The mission of the Luna-25 had fostered optimism in Moscow, suggesting Russia’s resurgence in the global lunar exploration race.
This failure serves as a stark reminder of Russia‘s dwindling influence in the realm of space exploration, a marked contrast to its former prominence during the Cold War era. During that period, Moscow achieved historic milestones, launching the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1, into Earth’s orbit in 1957, and sending cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961.
This event coincides with a significant challenge for Russia’s $2 trillion economy, grappling with both Western sanctions and its engagement in a major land conflict in Europe – the largest since World War Two.
While moon missions are notoriously complex and have faced setbacks by many countries, including the US and the Soviet Union, Russia’s previous lunar endeavor was Luna-24 in 1976, a time when Leonid Brezhnev was at the helm of the Soviet Union.
Remarkably, the loss of Luna-25 was placed eighth in Russian state television’s noon broadcast lineup, receiving a mere 26 seconds of coverage. This was preceded by news about fires in Tenerife and a four-minute feature on a professional holiday for Russian pilots and crews.
Unsuccessful Lunar Endeavor
Russia has found itself in a race with India, as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is anticipated to achieve a landing at the moon’s southern pole this week. This competition extends to a broader contest against China and the United States, both of which are pursuing ambitious lunar exploration initiatives.
Amid the unfolding news of the Luna-25’s failure, ISRO took to the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, to announce that Chandrayaan-3’s landing is scheduled for August 23rd