Russia’s first lunar mission in decades ended in failure on Saturday when the craft crashed into the Moon. The Russian space agency Roscosmos said it lost contact with the Luna 25 spacecraft as it was entering a pre-landing orbit. The agency said it would now investigate the reasons behind the crash.
Launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome on 10 August, Luna 25 was Russia’s first lunar landing in almost half a century, the last being Luna 24, which landed on the Moon on 18 August 1976 and successfully returned lunar samples back to Earth.
Luna 25 was planning to land in the South Pole region of the Moon where it would have studied the lunar surface with its eight instruments that included cameras and spectrometers.
On Friday, however, Roscosmos declared an “emergency situation” as the craft was entering a pre-landing orbit. “The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon,” Roscosmos noted in a statement.
Roscosmos said that a “inter-departmental commission” has now been set up to investigate the reasons behind the crash.
“We are reminded that landing on any celestial object is anything but easy & straightforward,” noted former NASA head of science Thomas Zurbuchen on X, formally known as Twitter. “Just because others managed to do it decades ago, does not guarantee success today.”
Russia’s landing attempt comes just days before India will try to put a lander and rover on the Moon. The Chandrayaan-3 mission consists of the Vikram lander that contains a six-wheeled rover named Pragyaan, and is currently scheduled for touch down on Wednesday.