The race to explore and develop resources on the moon has begun and Russia must continue to participate despite the failure of its first mission to land on the moon in 47 years, the head of the Russian space agency said on Monday.

Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft lost control and crashed into the moon Saturday after problems preparing for a pre-landing orbit, underscoring the decline of the once-mighty space program following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In a downbeat interview with Russia-24 state television, Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov said it was in Russia’s vital national interest to continue working on lunar exploration.

“It’s not just about national prestige and achieving certain geopolitical goals. It’s about securing defense capabilities and achieving technological sovereignty,” he said in his first public comments since the failed mission.

“Today it also has practical value because, of course, the race is on to exploit the natural resources of the Moon. And in the future, the Moon will be a platform for deep space exploration, an ideal platform.”

Russia said it would launch more moon missions and then explore the possibility of joint Russian-Chinese manned missions and even a lunar base. NASA has talked about a “moon gold rush” and explored the potential for lunar mining.

The United States announced the “Artemis Accords” in 2020, named after NASA’s Artemis moon landing program, which seeks to establish a “safe zone” on the moon based on existing international space law. Russia and China have not yet joined the agreement.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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