Luna-25 Has Crashed, Confirmed By Russia

Russia's lunar exploration mission Luna-25, has ended in failure after the spacecraft crashed into the moon's surface; the announcement was made by Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, through a statement on their Telegram on the morning of August 20.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Published: 20th Aug 2023 12:43 GMT
Written by: Zac Aubert

Russia's lunar exploration mission Luna-25, has ended in failure after the spacecraft crashed into the moon's surface; the announcement was made by Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, through a statement on their Telegram on the morning of August 20.

The ill-fated mission was marred by an anomaly that occurred during a maneuver to lower Luna-25's orbit on August 19. This mishap ultimately led to the spacecraft impacting the lunar surface instead transitioning it to its final orbit prior to attempting its planned soft landing.

Contact with Luna-25 was lost around 7:57 am Eastern on August 19th, and subsequent efforts made on August 19 and 20 to reestablish communication proved unsuccessful, as confirmed by the August 20 statement.

Preliminary analysis revealed that a deviation in the impulse parameters from the calculated values was responsible for the collision with the lunar surface.

Roscosmos initially reported on August 19 that the spacecraft had been instructed to fire its engines at 7:10 am Eastern to achieve a "pre-landing" orbit around the moon. However, an unexpected emergency situation on board prevented the maneuver from being executed according to plan.

The spacecraft was originally scheduled to attempt a soft landing near Boguslawsky crater, situated at approximately 70 degrees south latitude in the vicinity of the moon's south polar region on August 21.

The setback is not only a blow to Russia's aspirations in lunar exploration but also impacts broader cooperative endeavors.

The failure of Luna-25 also has implications for Russia's participation in the China-led China-led International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) initiative; which envisions Russia's super heavy-lift launch vehicles contributing to the station's infrastructure launches in the 2030s.  The mission's launch had been attended by Wu Yanhua, a senior official from China's deep space exploration projects. 

The Luna-25 mission was aimed at showcasing critical technologies for future lunar landings in the upcoming decade. Unfortunately, due to technical issues and resource constraints, the mission experienced significant delays. It was originally equipped with a European navigation camera, which was removed following Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict in 2022. The spacecraft carried a range of scientific payloads and was intended to pave the way for Russia's future lunar exploration endeavors.

The mission launch took place on August 10, using a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East. 

The unfortunate outcome of Luna-25's mission has intensified a competitive race to achieve successful lunar landings.

India's Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully lowered its lunar orbit on August 19, positioning itself for a landing attempt at a similar latitude to Luna-25. Chandrayaan-3's landing is anticipated to occur around 8:34 am Eastern on August 23. Additionally, Japan's space agency JAXA is preparing to launch the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) on August 25. SLIM aims to demonstrate landing technology that enhances precision and cost-effectiveness in lunar exploration.

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