1st Russia moon mission in 47 years crashes into moon

Gold machine on rocky gray lunar surface with blue-green Earth and stars in black sky.
Artist’s depiction of Russia’s Luna-25 lander, as it would have looked on the moon’s surface. British news agency Reuters reported early Sunday – August 20, 2023 – that the Russia moon mission tumbled out of control on approach and crashed. Image via NASA.

Russia moon mission ends in failure

In a blow to the Russian space program, the uncrewed Luna-25 moon lander mission has crashed into the lunar surface, according to the British news agency Reuters on Sunday, August 20, 2023.

This first attempt by Russians in 47 years to reach the moon ended with the lunar craft spinning out of control during its final lunar orbit. Then it crashed into Earth’s natural satellite. According to Reuters:

Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, said it had lost contact with the craft at 11:57 GMT on Saturday after a problem as the craft was shunted into pre-landing orbit.

A soft landing had been planned for Monday.

Luna-25 ‘ceased to exist’

Reuters quoted a terse statement from the Russian space authority Roscosmos following the failure:

The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon.

Luna-25 was meant to land at the moon’s south polar region. Once there, it was to study the regolith – the dust that covers the lunar surface – and sample the dust and plasma of the moon’s exosphere.

It was Russia’s first attempt to reach the moon in nearly half a century. Reuters said:

Though moon missions are fiendishly difficult, and many U.S. and Soviet attempts have failed, Russia had not attempted a moon mission since Luna-24 in 1976, when Communist leader Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Kremlin.

Russian aerospace industry in decline

Reuters described the failed mission as a blow to Russia’s international prestige at a time when it is already ebbing. The mission failure highlights the post-Soviet decline of the country’s once mighty space program:

Russian scientists have repeatedly complained that the space program has been weakened by poor managers who are keen for unrealistic vanity space projects, corruption and a decline in the rigor of Russia’s post-Soviet scientific education system.

So the failure is a cause for frustration among Russian scientists. Reuters quoted Mikhail Marov, 90, once a leading Soviet physicist and astronomer.

It is so sad that it was not possible to land the apparatus. This was perhaps the last hope for me to see a revival of our lunar program.

Marov was hospitalized following the announcement of Luna-25’s failure.

Bottom line: The uncrewed Russian lunar lander Luna-25 has crashed into the moon.

Via Reuters

August 20, 2023

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