Russia is launching a lunar lander on its first lunar mission in 50 years, aiming to land ahead of Indian spacecraft. lunar lander rocket launched on Friday on Russia’s first moon mission in nearly 50 years, racing to land on Earth’s satellite ahead of an Indian spacecraft.
The Luna-25 launch to the moon from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East is Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union.
The Russian lunar lander is expected to reach the moon on August 23, around the same day as the Indian rover, which was launched on July 14. The Russian spacecraft will take about 5.5 days to get close to the moon, after which it will spend three to seven days. days in orbit at a distance of about 100 kilometers (62 miles) before heading to the surface.
Only three governments have successfully landed on the moon: the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. India and Russia want to be the first to land on the South Pole of the Moon. The Russian space agency Roskosmos said it wanted to demonstrate that Russia “is a state capable of delivering cargo to the Moon” and “ensuring Russia’s guaranteed access to the surface of the Moon.”
“The study of the moon is not the goal,” said Vitaly Egorov, a popular Russian space analyst. “The goal is a political competition between the two superpowers – China and the US – and a number of other countries that also want to claim the title of space superpower.”
Sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine have made it difficult for it to access Western technology, impacting its space program. Luna-25 was originally intended to carry a small lunar rover, but that idea was abandoned to reduce the craft’s weight and increase reliability, analysts say.
Foreign electronics are lighter, domestic electronics are heavier,” said Egorov. “While scientists may be tasked with studying lunar water, for Roskosmos the main task is simply to land on the moon – to retrieve lost Soviet expertise and learn how to carry out this task in a new era.”
Luna-25 launched flawlessly from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, according to a Roscosmos video.
The cosmodrome is a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and is key to his bid to make Russia a space superpower and move Russian launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
India’s previous attempt to land on the moon’s south pole in 2019 ended when the lander crashed into the moon’s surface.
The moon’s south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe that the permanently shadowed polar craters may contain water. Frozen water in rocks could be turned into air and rocket fuel by future explorers.
“The moon is largely untouched, and the entire history of the moon is written on its face,” said Ed Bloomer, an astronomer at Britain’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich. “It’s pristine and like nothing you’ll get on Earth. It’s his own laboratory.”
Luna-25 is to collect samples of lunar rock and dust. The samples are critical to understanding the lunar environment before we build any base there, “otherwise we could build things and have to shut them down six months later because everything has effectively been dusted,” Bloomer said.