Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years failed to crash into the moon

  • Russia’s mission to the moon failed
  • Luna-25 crashed into the moon
  • Failure would be a blow to Russian space prestige
  • Soviet cosmonaut: Luna-25 is my last hope

MOSCOW, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years failed when its Luna-25 spacecraft lost control and crashed into the moon after problems in orbit before landing. A once powerful space program.

Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos, said it lost contact with the ship at 11:57 GMT on Saturday after problems with the plane’s pre-landing orbit stall. A soft landing was planned for Monday.

“The apparatus drifted into an unpredictable orbit and came to a halt as a result of a collision with the lunar surface,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

A special interdepartmental commission was formed to investigate the reasons behind the loss of the Luna-25 craft, whose mission raised hopes in Moscow that a major power was returning to the lunar race.

The defeat underscored the decline of Russia’s space power since the glory days of the Cold War rivalry, when Moscow first launched a satellite into Earth orbit — Sputnik 1, in 1957 — and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. In 1961.

Russia’s $2 trillion economy faces its biggest external challenge in decades: fighting Western sanctions and the biggest land war in Europe since World War II.

Although moon missions are grueling and many American and Soviet attempts have failed, Russia has not attempted a lunar mission since Luna-24 in 1976, when Communist leader Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Kremlin.

Russian state television placed the story of the loss of Luna-25 at No. 8 in its lineup at noon, covering it just 26 seconds after the news about the fire in Tenerife and a 4-minute item about professional leave for Russian pilots. crew.

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The moonshot failed

Russia is racing against India to land the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon’s south pole this week.

FILE PHOTO: An image from the camera of the lunar lander Luna-25 shows the Zeeman Crater at the far side of the moon on August 17, 2023. This image is provided by Roscosmos/Manual focus editors via Reuters. Third party. Compulsory loan./File photo Get license rights

Following the news of Luna-25 malfunction, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) X tweeted that Chandrayaan-3 is set to land on August 23.

Russian officials hoped the Luna-25 mission would show Russia could compete with superpowers in space, despite the post-Soviet collapse and the huge cost of the war in Ukraine.

“The flight control system is a vulnerable area that has had to undergo several fixes,” said Anatoly Zak, creator and publisher of www.RussianSpaceWeb.com, which tracks Russian space programs.

Zach said Russia also went for a more ambitious moon landing before making a simple orbital mission, a routine practice for the Soviet Union, the United States, China and India.

As Luna-25 went beyond Earth’s orbit — unlike the failed Phobos-Grunt mission in 2011 to one of Mars’ moons — the mishap could affect Russia’s lunar program, which expects more missions in the coming years, including a possible joint venture with China.

Russian scientists have repeatedly complained that the space program is plagued by weak managers preoccupied with unrealistic vanity space projects, corruption, and a decline in the rigor of Russia’s post-Soviet science education system.

“It’s very sad that we couldn’t land the instrument,” said Mikhail Marov, a leading physicist and astronomer in the Soviet Union.

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Marov, 90, was hospitalized in Moscow after news of the Luna-25 failure broke, although details about what ailed him were not available.

Marov told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper that he hoped the causes of the accident would be discussed and rigorously investigated.

“This may be the last hope to see a revival of our lunar program,” he said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in New Delhi Additional reporting by YP Rajesh Editing by Christina Fincher and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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As Moscow bureau chief, Guy runs coverage of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Prior to Moscow, Guy ran Brexit coverage as London Bureau Chief (2012-2022). On the night of Brexit, his team delivered one of Reuters’ historic successes – breaking the news of Brexit first to the world and financial markets. Guy graduated from the London School of Economics and began his career as an intern at Bloomberg. He spent more than 14 years covering the former Soviet Union. He speaks fluent Russian. Contact: +447825218698

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