An unsatisfactory conclusion to Russia’s voyage to the lunar surface 47 years after the last landing by the former Soviet Union. The country’s space agency announced it on Sunday (20 August 2023): the Luna-25 spacecraft has crashed on the Moon’s surface.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 is now on track to make history by being the first spacecraft to touch down close to the lunar south pole.
In preparation for its anticipated landing on Wednesday, the Chandrayaan-3 Lander Module went into its pre-landing orbit of 25 km x 134 km from the lunar surface on Sunday morning.
The spacecraft will start its descent from this orbit on 23 August 2023, Wednesday, around 17:45 IST. After 15 minutes, the touchdown is anticipated. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, Chandrayaan-3 is operating normally as it prepares to make its scheduled descent on Wednesday, the start of the lunar day, which lasts for around 14 days on Earth.
“With the next Chandrayaan-3 mission, which is set to perform a soft-landing on the lunar surface, India’s quest of space exploration reaches a momentous milestone. This achievement represents our country’s advancement in space exploration. It represents a big step forward for Indian science, engineering, technology, and industry, according to a statement from ISRO.
“The soft landings of Chandrayaan-3 is a momentous event that piques youths’ interest and ignites a love for exploration. As we all recognise the excellence of Indian science and technology, it fosters a strong sense of pride and cohesion. It claimed it would help promote a culture of creativity and scientific curiosity.
Two days before the Chandrayaan-3, on 21 August 2023, the Luna-25 was slated to do a soft landing on the moon. Both planned to touch down close to the moon’s south pole.
But on Saturday, as it attempted to enter a pre-landing orbit, the Russian spacecraft encountered serious difficulties.
According to the Russian space agency Roscosmos, “an emergency situation” had developed in the spacecraft, preventing the orbit-reduction manoeuvre from being completed. Additionally, contact with the spaceship had been lost. It claimed that it was attempting to fix the issue.
Roscosmos reported that Luna-25 had collided with the Moon’s surface on Sunday afternoon.
The efforts made on 19 August (Saturday) and 20 August (Sunday) to locate Luna-25 and contact it were unsuccessful, according to a statement from Roscosmos.
It claimed that the autonomous station went to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist due to a collision with the lunar surface. “According to the preliminary analysis results, due to the deviation of the actual parameters of the impulse from the calculated ones,” it said.
Russia’s first Moon mission in contemporary times was Luna-25. The last lunar mission of the former Soviet Union, Luna-24, resulted in a successful landing in 1976. In fact, China’s Chang’e-3 arrived there 37 years later, in 2013, which was the final spacecraft to touch down on the Moon. The only other spacecraft to land on the Moon since then are Chang’e-4 and Chang’e-5, a sample return mission in December 2020 and Chang’e-4 in January 2019.