- Russia’s moon mission fails: Luna-25 crashes into the moon.
- Setback to Russian space prestige: Failure underscores decline in space program.
The Lunar Mission and Its Setback
Russia’s ambitious attempt to achieve its first moon mission in nearly five decades faced a significant setback. The Luna-25 spacecraft, part of Russia’s space program, encountered difficulties while preparing for a pre-landing orbit, causing it to spin out of control and ultimately crash into the moon.
Loss of Contact and Aftermath
Roskosmos, the state space corporation of Russia, lost contact with the Luna-25 craft at 11:57 GMT on Saturday. The craft was intended to achieve a soft landing on the moon on Monday. Unfortunately, the craft’s unpredictable orbit led to a collision with the moon’s surface.
Roskosmos has formed a special inter-departmental commission to investigate the reasons behind the Luna-25 craft’s failure. The mission had raised hopes in Moscow of re-establishing Russia’s prominence in space exploration.
Decline of Russia’s Space Power
The failure of this lunar mission highlights the decline of Russia’s space power from its Cold War era achievements. While Moscow was once the pioneer in space exploration, launching the first satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, and sending Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961, the recent failure underscores the challenges the country faces in maintaining its space prowess.
This setback occurs amid Russia’s current challenges, including Western sanctions and engagement in a significant land war in Europe, the largest since World War Two.
International Lunar Ambitions
Russia’s lunar mission failure comes in the midst of global efforts towards lunar exploration. India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is set to land on the moon’s south pole, showcasing India’s advancements in space exploration. Additionally, China and the United States have robust lunar ambitions.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to land on the moon on August 23, as confirmed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Reasons and Lessons
The failure of the Luna-25 mission underscores the challenges in space exploration. Russian officials aspired to demonstrate their capability to compete on the global stage despite the nation’s post-Soviet decline and economic pressures, including the cost of the Ukraine war.
According to Anatoly Zak, creator of RussianSpaceWeb.com, the mission faced vulnerabilities in its flight control system that required numerous fixes. The decision to pursue a complex moon landing as the initial mission, rather than opting for a simpler orbital one, set ambitious goals for Russia.
Notably, this is not the first time Russia has encountered setbacks in space exploration. The 2011 Fobos-Grunt mission to a Martian moon failed to exit Earth’s orbit and re-entered the atmosphere, crashing into the Pacific Ocean in 2012.
While Russia aimed to sample frozen water believed to be at the moon’s south pole through the Luna-25 mission, its failure casts doubts on Russia’s ability to achieve this milestone.
Despite this setback, Russia’s space program envisions several upcoming lunar missions. The impact of this failed mission on the nation’s space aspirations remains uncertain, but it highlights the complex challenges and competition faced by spacefaring nations in the modern era.