Russia’s Luna-25 mission, intended to mark the nation’s return to lunar exploration after nearly half a century, crashed while attempting to land on the Moon.
The Luna-25 spacecraft, the first moon mission attempted by Russia since 1976, appears to be in jeopardy as an “abnormal situation” occurred during an attempt to move the craft into a pre-landing orbit.
“On August 19, in accordance with the flight program of the Luna-25 spacecraft, an impulse was provided for the formation of its pre-landing elliptical orbit,” Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, announced on Telegram on August 19, 2023. “According to the results of a preliminary analysis, due to the deviation of the actual parameters of the impulse from the calculated ones, the device switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface.”
This development comes just days before the spacecraft was scheduled to execute a soft landing on the moon’s south pole.
The Luna-25 mission was initially scheduled for August 2022, later delayed to July 2023, and then held up again due to ground control infrastructure tests. The Russian lander was aiming to touch down at the south pole of the Moon.
The primary objectives were to demonstrate landing technology and collect rock samples, with a specific focus on detecting traces of frozen water. Russia plans to eventually establish a permanent presence on the Moon.