The Luna-25 probe from Russia meets an unfortunate end with a crash landing on the Moon

Russia’s Luna-25 probe, the country’s first Moon mission in almost 50 years, has unfortunately crashed on the Moon’s surface. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, announced that the crash occurred during pre-landing maneuvers, but did not provide further details about the incident. This failed mission comes at a time when Russia is facing a high number of challenges in its space industry, such as corruption, lack of innovation, and international isolation due to the Ukraine offensive.

Communication with the Luna-25 probe was lost on Saturday, and according to initial findings, the lander collided with the Moon’s surface and no longer exists. Efforts made to locate the craft and establish contact were unsuccessful. Roscosmos plans to open a ministerial investigation to determine the causes of the crash. Some experts believe that electronic problems, potentially stemming from Western sanctions on Moscow, could be responsible for the failure.

The Luna-25 mission aimed to build on the legacy of the Soviet-era Luna program and mark Russia’s return to independent Moon exploration. However, financial troubles, corruption scandals, and strained relations with the West have hindered the program’s progress. Valery Yegorov, a former researcher with Russia’s space program, noted that the crash will significantly impact Roscosmos’s future missions, with no planned launches until 2028 or later. He also suggested that the probe’s failure may be linked to Western sanctions imposed on Russia after the Crimea seizure.

The Luna-25 probe, weighing 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds), was set to make a soft landing on the Moon’s south pole, which would have been a historic achievement. Russia has not attempted a celestial body landing since 1989 when the Soviet Union’s Phobos 2 probe failed due to an onboard computer malfunction during a mission to explore the moons of Mars.

The mission had significant scientific goals, including collecting soil samples and searching for water on the Moon. Water is an essential resource for potential future colonies and could be used as rocket fuel for further space exploration. The lander’s cameras had already captured images of the lunar surface, showcasing its capabilities.

Russia’s space cooperation with the West has faced doubt following its military campaign in Ukraine. While Russia plans to use the International Space Station until 2028, the European Space Agency (ESA) has dropped plans for collaboration on Moon and Mars missions. This setback further highlights the importance of successful missions for maintaining international partnerships.

Russia’s last successful lunar landing occurred in 1976 with the Luna-24 probe. Since then, the country shifted its focus away from lunar exploration towards missions to Venus and the construction of the Mir space station. A successful landing with Luna-25 would have paved the way for future Russian missions to the Moon, joining India and China in their lunar exploration efforts. Additionally, the United States is gearing up for manned missions to the Moon.

In conclusion, Russia’s Luna-25 probe crash on the Moon represents a significant setback for the country’s space program. It highlights the challenges faced by Russia’s space industry, including corruption, lack of innovation, and strained international relations. The crash also raises questions about Russia’s future in lunar exploration and its ability to maintain partnerships with other space-faring nations. Despite this setback, other countries, including India, China, and the United States, continue to push forward with their lunar missions, ushering in a new era of Moon exploration.