Russian Spacecraft “Ceased to Exist”
Russia’s lunar dreams were set back on Saturday afternoon as its unmanned Luna-25 spacecraft lost control and crashed onto the Moon’s surface. As the country’s state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos put it, the lander “ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon”.
What happened: Russia’s first lunar mission since the days of the Soviet Union ended abruptly over the weekend. This underlines the struggling state of Russia’s space endeavors since the peak of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union pioneered human space travel.
- The mission faced a series of setbacks due to Russia’s dwindling space agency, struggling with financial constraints and increased isolation.
Luna-25’s liftoff took place earlier this month, carrying the hopes of becoming the first ever lunar craft to reach the Moon’s south pole.
What didn’t happen: Science. The lander was set to undertake a year-long exploration mission studying the Moon’s surface and exosphere.
- The plan was to sample ice at the lunar south pole to solve a cosmic chicken or egg question: what came first, the Moon autonomously or the Earth that then shattered from an extraterrestrial collision to create the Moon?
Unfortunately, the spacecraft veered off course around 100 kilometers above the Moon.
- Despite efforts to locate and re-establish communication with Luna-25, the line was as silent as space and the search yielded no results.
Looking ahead: This is unlikely to be the last lunar mission we’ll see this decade, as countries continue to eye the natural resources of the Moon and its potential as an efficient launch pad… more on this tomorrow.