On August 20, in a shocking turn of events, Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft took an unexpected dive, crashing into the Moon’s harsh terrains. This, after spinning into an uncontrollable orbit, marked a grim day for the pioneering lunar space mission.
The Luna-25, an unmanned spacecraft, was designed with a lofty aim – to be the first ever to make a landing on the Moon’s South Pole.
This region is of scientific interest, suspected to nurture crucial reserves of frozen water and precious elements. The scheduled touchdown was on August 21—an event that never occurred.
Losing Touch and Control: Unforeseen Obstacles for Luna-25
However, a day prior to the scheduled landing, contact with Luna-25 was lost. The space probe, in a worrisome development, fell into an unpredictable orbit.
Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, found itself dealing with an “abnormal situation”. The probe, unfortunately, ceased to exist after a catastrophic collision with the lunar surface.
Accompanying Luna-25 in the lunar race was India’s Chandrayaan-3, launched on July 14, with similar ambitions of reaching the South Pole. Its powered descent is slated to start at 5.45 pm IST, August 23.
After an apparent hiatus since 1976, this mission marked Russia’s return to the moon – an effort to join the esteemed club of the Soviet Union, the United States, and China- the only three governments to boast successful moon landings.
Symbol of Resilience: Russia’s Unwavering Determination
Roscosmos voiced its intention through the Luna-25. The entity aimed to showcase Russia as a state equipped to deliver a payload to the moon, thereby “ensuring Russia’s guaranteed access to the moon’s surface”.
Sanctions on Russia, since it intervened in Ukraine, hampered its space program, curtailing access to Western technology, yet the stint with Luna-25 proves its unyielding resilience.
Originally, Luna-25 was envisioned to shuttle a small moon rover. The idea was dropped, however, to lessen craft weight and boost reliability.
Once ready, the craft embarked on its journey from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome – the pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin, integral to his dream of making Russia a space superpower.
The unexpected downfall of Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft was a setback. However, with each misstep, we inch toward a better understanding of space. The journey isn’t over; it’s just the beginning.