Luna-25 to Moon, targets landing ahead of Chandrayaan-3

Luna-25 to Moon, targets landing ahead of Chandrayaan-3

Luna-25 to Moon, targets landing ahead of Chandrayaan-3

Weeks after India launched Chandrayaan-3, Russia blasted off its Luna-25 craft in the country’s first mission since 1976. Both India and Russia are racing against time in order to become the first to land on the moon’s south pole.

Moscow, UPDATED: Aug 11, 2023 11:50 IST

The spacecraft lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome

Objective of Luna-25 is to collect samples of moon rock and dust

The Luna-25 mission is part of a broader race to explore the lunar south pole

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Russia launched its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years on Friday in a bid to be the first nation to make a soft landing on the lunar south pole, a region believed to hold coveted pockets of water ice.

The Russian lunar mission, the first since 1976, is racing against India, which launched its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander last month, and more broadly with the US and China, both of which have advanced lunar exploration programs targeting the lunar south pole.

A Soyuz 2.1v rocket carrying the Luna-25 craft blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome, 5,550 kilometers east of Moscow, at 2:11 am on Friday Moscow time, with its upper stage boosting the lander out of Earth’s orbit toward the moon over an hour later, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos confirmed.

The lander is expected to touch down on the moon on August 21, Russia’s space chief Yuri Borisov told Interfax on Friday. Russian space agency Roscosmos previously pegged August 23 as the landing date.

Luna-25, roughly the size of a small car, will aim to operate for a year on the moon’s south pole, where scientists at NASA and other space agencies in recent years have detected traces of water ice in the region’s shadowed craters.

There is much riding on the Luna-25 mission, as the Kremlin says the West’s sanctions over the Ukraine war, many of which have targeted Moscow’s aerospace sector, have failed to cripple the Russian economy.

The moonshot, which Russia has been planning for decades, will also test the nation’s growing independence in space after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine severed nearly all of Moscow’s space ties with the West, besides its integral role on the International Space Station.


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