NEW DELHI: Over the past few days, the world has been avidly watching India’s Chandrayaan-3 and Russia’s Luna-25 get closer to the Moon in an informal race to the Moon’s south pole.
Now, a last-minute technical glitch in a Russian spacecraft threatens to jeopardize the friendly contest in the skies.
On Saturday night, Russia’s first moon mission for 47 years almost failed after Moscow reported problems trying to put Luna-25 into orbit before landing.
Isro has announced that Chandrayaan-3’s propulsion module, originally designed to have a lifespan of three to six months, will be able to continue operating for many years. The module holds more than 150kg of fuel, left over from Chandrayaan-3’s engine life, which has completed five orbits around the Earth.
NEW DELHI: Two days from now, on the eve of India’s Independence Day, Isro will perform an elaborate maneuver to narrow the orbit of Chandrayaan 3, bringing India closer to its long-held dream of setting foot to the moon. It will be one of many orbital reduction operations performed by the space agency
The Russian media reported that the spacecraft could be lost, raising concerns about the success of the mission.
Russia’s state space corporation, Roskosmos, said an “unusual situation” arose when mission controllers attempted to move the craft into orbit before landing at 11:10 GMT on Saturday. , ahead of an encounter scheduled for Monday.
“During the operation, an unusual situation occurred on the automatic station, which did not allow maneuvering with the specified parameters,” Roskosmos said in a short statement.
Roskosmos said experts are analyzing the situation but so far there have been no further updates on Luna-25 as of Saturday.
However, unverified Russian-language Telegram channels have reported that “communication with the ship has been lost”, and the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets quoted an unnamed expert as saying the ship may have been lost.
Titled “Space Industry Sources: The Lost Luna-25,” the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported that Alexander Ivanov, the first deputy director of Roskosmos, who directed the orbiting group projects, held an emergency meeting. report on the situation on Saturday night.
This, even as the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) successfully reduced the orbit of the Landing Module (LM) of the Chandrayaan-3 mission during an early morning maneuver, continued to bring it gets closer to the Moon.
The National Space Agency also said that LM will now undergo internal tests before it finally lands on the lunar surface on August 23.
Over the past few days, there has been a fierce debate about which of the two world powers will be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole, the region where important elements reside.
The close, possibly overlapping landing dates of both missions — August 21-23 for Luna-25 and August 23-24 for Chandrayaan-3 — have increased global scrutiny.
But with Russia’s Luna-25 currently facing an “unusual situation” – it’s unclear if we’ll see a close race to the Moon after that.
What the moon mission means for Russia
Russia has not attempted a Moon mission since Luna-24 in 1976, when Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Kremlin.
During Soviet times, it was caught in a space race with the United States, which Washington ultimately won after sending a man to the Moon. However, it was the Soviet Union who first sent humans into space.
According to Russian space officials, Russia’s newest Moon mission, Luna-25, is supposed to make a soft landing on the Moon’s south pole on August 21.
The failure of the prestigious mission would underscore the decline of Russia’s space power since the glory days of Cold War rivalry.
It would also put pressure on Russia’s $2 trillion economy – and the high-tech sectors in particular – as the country grapples with Western sanctions aimed at punishing Russia. because of the war in Ukraine.
(With input from Reuters)