Russia's First Moon Mission in Decades Ends in a Crash

Luna-25 lander rams into the moon while preparing to land
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2023 6:26 AM CDT
Russia's First Moon Mission in 47 Years Fails
In this photo released by Roscosmos State Space Corporation, a rocket with the moon lander Luna-25 takes off from a launch pad in Russia's Far East on Aug. 11, 2023.   (Centre for Operation of Space Ground-Based Infrastructure-Roscosmos State Space Corporation via AP)

Russia's first attempt to return to the moon since 1976 has ended in an explosion. The nation's Luna-25 lander spun out of control while preparing to land and rammed into the moon's surface, reports CNN. "The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision," according to a statement from Russia's Roscosmos space agency, per the AP. All of which is "quite a blow" to Russia's space program, per Russia had been racing to become the first country to land a rover on the moon's challenging south pole.

The failure of the mission means India is now on track to collect that honor—its Chandrayaan-3 mission is scheduled to attempt a landing on Wednesday, per the Wall Street Journal. India is aiming to become only the fourth nation to land anywhere on the moon, after the US, the former Soviet Union, and China. The Journal notes that India's space budget is $1.5 billion, a fraction of the US budget of $25 billion. The moon's south pole is of particular interest to scientists because its craters may contain frozen water that could be transformed into air and rocket fuel for future space missions, per the AP. (More Russia stories.)

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