Earlier this month, Russia launched its first lunar spacecraft in almost 50 years. The nation hoped that the Luna-25 would be a revival of Russia’s once prestigious space program. However, the Luna-25 mission crashed into the Moon after a problem preparing for pre-landing orbit sent the craft spiraling to the lunar surface.
The mission’s failure is a huge loss for the Russian space program, and according to Reuters, some Soviet space veterans even considered it their last hope that the program would return to the height of its prestige seen during the era of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, it does not appear like Luna-25 was that mission after Roscomos confirmed loss of contact with the craft on Saturday around 11:57 GMT.
The crash is believed to have been caused when the craft moved into an unpredictable orbit, causing it to spiral out of control and crash into the lunar surface. We’ve also seen other lunar spacecraft crash into the moon, like Japan’s moon lander. NASA spotted the crash site for the Japanese lander in May of this year, so it’s likely the crash site for Luna-25 could be revealed at some point, too.
It isn’t difficult to see just how far Russia’s space program has declined since its peak in the 1950s, when the Soviet Union became the first to launch a satellite into orbit around the Earth. Russia hoped that the Luna-25 lander would be the start of Russia’s rise to becoming a powerhouse in the newest moon race, but it seems that won’t be the case just yet.
Missions to the lunar surface are some of the most difficult because of the almost nonexistent atmosphere on the moon. This makes approaching the lunar surface difficult, as there isn’t much there to slow the spacecraft down, requiring specific orbital maneuvers to slow the spacecraft before landing. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for the Luna-25 mission.