A technical problem overshadows Russia’s Luna-25 lunar mission
Sciences et technologies

A technical problem overshadows Russia’s Luna-25 lunar mission

On Saturday, Russia reported an “abnormal situation” on its Luna 25 space probe, which launched earlier this month.

The country’s space agency, Roskosmos, said the probe encountered unspecified problems while trying to reach a pre-landing orbit around the moon, and its specialists are analyzing the situation.

“During the operation, an emergency situation arose on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed with the specified parameters,” the Roscosmos message says in Telegram.

Roscosmos did not say whether the incident would interfere with the landing of Luna-25.

The space probe is expected to land on the moon’s south pole on Monday, aiming to land on Earth’s moon ahead of the Indian spacecraft.

The moon’s south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe its permanently shadowed polar craters may contain water. Water frozen in rocks could be turned into air and rocket fuel by future explorers.

Also on Saturday, the Russian space probe gave its first results. Roscosmos said that the preliminary data received, which are still being analyzed, contained information about the chemical elements of the lunar soil and that its equipment recorded a “micrometeorite impact.”

Roskosmos has published images of the Zeeman crater – the third largest in the southern hemisphere of the Moon – taken from a spacecraft. The crater has a diameter of 190 kilometers and a depth of eight kilometers.

The launch of the Luna-25 probe on August 10 from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East was the first in Russia since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union.

The Russian lunar module was expected to reach the moon between August 21 and 23, around the same time as the Indian vehicle launched on July 14.

Only three governments have ever successfully landed on the moon: the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. India and Russia are aiming to be the first countries to land on the south pole of the moon.

Roscosmos said it wants to show that Russia “is a state capable of delivering a payload to the Moon” and “ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to the surface of the Moon.”

Sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine make it harder for the country to access Western technology, which affects its space program.

Analysts say Luna 25 was originally intended to carry a small lunar lander, but that idea was abandoned in order to reduce the ship’s weight and improve its reliability.

The spaceport is a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and plays a key role in his efforts to turn Russia into a space superpower and move Russian launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to Russian soil.

India’s previous attempt to land on the moon’s south pole in 2019 ended when the lander crashed into the moon’s surface.

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