Russia’s first post-Soviet Moon mission ends in space crash
Russia’s first post-Soviet Moon mission ends in space crash

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Russia’s first moon mission since 1976 (when it was still part of the Soviet Union) ended in failure when the unmanned spacecraft Luna-25 lost control and crashed into the lunar surface.

It was originally scheduled to land on the south pole of the moon on Monday.

The setback for Russia’s increasingly isolated and cash-strapped Roscosmos agency underscores the decline of Moscow’s space program since its Cold War peak, when the Soviet Union was the first country to send humans into space.

Luna-25 launched from Earth earlier this month, with Russia hoping to be the first country to land on the moon’s south pole. Once there, the lunar lander mission should spend a year studying the lunar surface and exosphere, among other studies.

But communications were lost Saturday afternoon as the spacecraft transitioned from a circular orbit about 100 kilometers above the lunar surface to a pre-landing orbit.

The space agency said the impulse designed to trigger the shift sent it off course, putting it on the wrong track.

“According to the results of the preliminary analysis, the Luna-25 spacecraft was moved to a non-calculated orbit due to deviations in the actual impulse parameters from the calculated ones,” Roscosmos said in a statement. “.

“Measures taken August 19-20 to search for and communicate with the spacecraft have yielded no results,” the space agency said, adding that an interagency committee had been formed to investigate the incident.

Luna-25 launched from Russia’s Far East Cosmodrome on Aug. 10, marking the country’s first lunar mission since the Soviet Union’s Luna-24 launch in 1976. The robotic lander successfully returned to Earth, carrying a sample of lunar soil for scientists to study.

Russia is racing to beat India on the Luna-25 mission, whose Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is approaching the lunar south pole region and is scheduled to land on Wednesday.

The Luna-25 crash has raised doubts about the future of Russia’s space program, especially as the country is waging a resource-intensive and costly war in Ukraine, cut off by sanctions and international condemnation for the invasion. Access to Western technology and research.

Roscosmos has been working with the Russian military to fund a battalion of volunteers to fight in Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.

“Any failure in space, the first Russian business newspaper RBC quoted Alexander Zheleznyakov, an expert on the rocket and space industry and a space historian, as saying: “This affects the future plans of a particular country or a particular project.”

“As far as we are concerned, we will probably have to change the approach to creating new landers, because 47 years have passed since the last lander was launched and many things have changed,” Zheleznyakov said. “Science advances, technology advances, and unfortunately over the years we have somewhat lost the ability to conduct interplanetary missions and land on other planets.”

“We had to adjust our ambitions a little bit and realized we had to relearn everything,” he said.

Another Russian scientist, 90-year-old Mikhail Marov, one of the leading figures in the Soviet space program, told RBC he was shocked by hearing of the Luna-25 crash. Hospitalized in shock, he called the crash his “life’s work”.

“Sadly, the device was unable to land,” he told the magazine. “To me, maybe this is the last hope for the revival of our lunar program.”

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