The Russian Luna 25 mission ends in failure as the spacecraft crashes Into the Moon’s surface. That’s not gonna buff out.
A statement posted to the agency’s Telegram social media channel early Aug. 20 confirmed that an anomaly during an Aug. 19 maneuver to lower Luna-25’s orbit resulted in the spacecraft impacting the lunar surface. The spacecraft was scheduled to attempt a soft lunar landing Aug. 21, near Boguslawsky crater, located approximately 70 degrees south latitude in the vicinity of the south polar region of the moon.
Roscosmos announced Aug. 19 that at 7:10 a.m. Eastern that day Luna-25 was instructed to fire its engines to send the spacecraft into a “pre-landing” orbit around the moon. The results, however, were to say the least, suboptimal. The agency clarified Sunday that contact was lost with the spacecraft around 7:57 a.m. Eastern. Measures taken Aug. 19 and 20 to reestablish contact with Luna-25 were not successful, according to the Aug. 20 statement.
“An emergency situation occurred on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed with the specified parameters,” according to a translation of the Roscosmos statement.
The crash signifies a significant setback for Russian space program and Roscosmos. It was meant to be a crucial milestone in Russia’s space program, and would have been the first landing on the Moon by Russia as a country, putting it in the company of the United States, China, and assuming their pending landing mission is successful, India. The Russian effort was scheduled to land a mere week before the Indian Chandrayaan-3 lander, and was considered important as a public relations move to cast Russia as one of the world’s superpowers.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched with a budget of about 6.15 billion rupees ($74 million), less than the cost to produce the 2013 Hollywood space thriller “Gravity”. A successful mission would make India only the fourth country to successfully land on the moon, after the former USSR, the United States and China. As things stand, that fourth country in history position is now lost to Russia.
The distress of the Russian government over the events is apparent in the last line of their short missive about the event: “A special interdepartmental commission will be established to investigate the reasons for the loss of ‘Luna’.”
The Russian space organization had previously announced that they would not be sharing any of their discoveries with other space science organizations around the world as had been done previously, due in large part to the the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“On August 19th, as per the flight program of the spacecraft ‘Luna-25’, a propulsion pulse was planned to shape its pre-landing elliptical orbit.
Around 14:57 Moscow time, communication with the spacecraft ‘Luna-25’ was lost.
Efforts on August 19th and 20th to locate the spacecraft and reestablish communication were unsuccessful. Based on a preliminary analysis, due to the deviation of the actual propulsion parameters from the projected ones, the spacecraft shifted to an unplanned orbit and ceased its existence as a result of a collision with the Moon’s surface. A special interdepartmental commission will be established to investigate the reasons for the loss of ‘Luna’.”
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