The Luna-25 probe crashes into the lunar surface, according to the Russian space agency

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Bad news for the Kremlin. The Russian probe Luna-25, unmanned and whose mission was to be the first spacecraft to land on the South Pole of the Earth's satellite, has crashed into the lunar surface, as reported today by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. With this failure, Russia is left behind in the space race and, if all goes according to plan, the Indian probe Chandrayaan-3 will land on the moon next Wednesday and success will be noted.

"Moon-25 assumed an unforeseen orbit and ceased to exist as a result of the collision with the lunar surface," an official statement said.

According to the results of the preliminary analysis, the reason for the accident was "deviation from the actual impulse parameters" calculated in advance.

Roscosmos acknowledged that it had lost contact with the ship on Saturday at 2:57 p.m. local time (11:57 GMT) and attempts to resume communications yesterday and Sunday had failed.

The probe departed on August 11 from the Vostochni cosmodrome,


The lunar orbit, an insurmountable obstacle

Landing on the terrestrial satellite and returning to tell it is not an easy task. There are many automatic stations that have crashed throughout history. In fact, India is now making its third attempt.

But Moscow promised them happy when on Wednesday Luna-25 reached lunar orbit without incident, began to revolve around the satellite and send images of its surface. Roscomos kept the date of the moon landing unchanged, August 21.

Something went wrong on Saturday. The Russian agency raised all alarms by reporting an "emergency situation" when the engines propelled Luna-25 into pre-moon landing orbit.

Russian engineers on the ground lost communication with the station at 2:57 p.m. Saturday (1157 GMT) and were never able to recover it.

According to the results of the preliminary analysis, the reason for the accident was "deviation from the actual impulse parameters" previously calculated.

Luna-25 only had time to send several images of the lunar surface - the Zeeman crater, 184 kilometers in diameter -, carry out some measurements and scientific experiments, and record the impact of a micrometeorite against the Moon.


Russian technicians during the preparation of Luna-25


The price of sanctions

After a few dark years for the Russian space program, which caused a purge in the rocket industry, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted in April that it had been several years - more than a hundred launches in a row - that Russian spacecraft had not suffered accidents.

Roscosmos also downplayed the decision of the European Space Agency (ESA) to suspend cooperation with the Russian lunar program last year after the start of the war in Ukraine, but the consequences are in sight.

Putin, who did not attend the launch of the probe -in 2016 he presided over the failed first launch from the Vostochni cosmodrome-, in the last two years has devoted a large part of the public budget to manufacturing weapons, ammunition, drones and other equipment for the military campaign. in Ukraine. According to experts, the rest of the state programs were no longer a priority.

Russia hoped that the probe would be the first to find water in the form of ice in craters and other hidden places on the Moon, in addition to taking samples from the surface, studying the upper layer of lunar regolith, from its relief to its composition and solidity. , and also analyze its exosphere.

Among other equipment, the ship had a LAZMA mass spectrometer to study the chemical composition of the lunar surface; an ARIES neutral and charged particle detector; a PML lunar dust detector; an infrared LIS spectrometer and an ADRON-LR gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer.


Takeoff of the Soyuz 2 rocket carrying the lunar probe, on August 16


Russia lags behind in the lunar race

The Soviet Luna-2 was the first probe to land on the said satellite in 1959, a feat that the US could only emulate years later with its Ranger program.

Space conquest is one of the greatest patriotic pride, but Russia's technological lag has been evident in recent years.

NASA confirmed a few weeks ago the launch in 2024 of Artemis II, the first manned mission to the satellite since 1972 (Apollo 17). If that orbital mission is successful - something that Artemis I has already completed without a crew in 2022 - Artemis III will land on the South Pole in 2025.

China, which in 2019 became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the Moon, recently announced the construction of a scientific exploration base at the South Pole over the next decade.

In the absence of state investment, Moscow has decided to cooperate with Beijing in a manned program and in the launch by 2035 of the International Lunar Research Station. But on Wednesday, if all goes according to plan, it will be the Indian probe that lands on the South Pole.

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