This photo taken from the camera of the lunar lander Luna-25 spacecraft during the lunar flight shows the mission icon and the bucket of the lunar manipulation complex on August 15, 2023. Photo: Roscosmos via Reuters
Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon after it entered an uncontrolled orbit, the country’s space agency Roscosmos said on August 20.
The unmanned spacecraft is aiming to become the first to land on the Moon’s south pole, an area that scientists believe may contain important reserves of frozen water and precious elements. It was scheduled to land on August 21.
However, Roscosmos said it lost contact with Luna-25 on August 19 after the spacecraft crashed and reported an “unusual situation”.
“The instrument entered an unpredictable and defunct orbit due to collision with the surface of the moon,” a statement from the agency read.
Luna-25 is racing against India’s Chandrayaan-3 launched on July 14 to become the first to reach the south pole. Both are expected to arrive on the Moon between August 21 and 23.
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Only three governments successfully managed a moon landing: the Soviet Union, the United States, and China.
Scientists are particularly interested in the moon’s south pole, who believe that permanently obscured polar craters may contain water frozen in rock that future explorers could turn into air and rocket fuel.
An earlier attempt by India to land at the south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the lunar surface.
Roscosmos said it wanted to show Russia “as a country capable of transporting cargo to the moon” and “guarantee Russia’s access to the lunar surface”.
Sanctions imposed on Russia since it began acting in Ukraine have affected its space program, making it more difficult to access Western technology.
The Luna-25 was originally designed to carry a small lunar probe, analysts say, but that idea was scrapped to reduce the spacecraft’s weight to improve reliability.
The spacecraft was launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on August 10. The spaceport is the heart of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s project and key to Russia’s drive to become a superpower. his universe.