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Russia says its Luna-25 lunar lander has crashed into the moon

21 August 2023

Russia says its Luna-25 lunar lander has crashed into the moon

Luna-25, Russia’s first moon mission in 47 years, was the vanguard of a planned series of lunar probes.

Russia’s first moon lander in 47 years has crashed into the lunar surface, the country’s space agency reported on Sunday (Aug. 20).

The Luna-25 lander, which Russia had hoped would land at the south pole of the moon as early as Monday (Aug. 21), crashed into the moon after an orbital maneuver went wrong yesterday (Aug. 19), officials with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency said.

“At about 14:57 Moscow time [on Aug. 19], communication with the Luna-25 spacecraft was interrupted,” Roscosmos wrote in an update on Telegram today (in Russian; translation by Google). “The measures taken on August 19 and 20 to search for the device and get into contact with it did not produce any results.”

A preliminary analysis suggests that the wayward orbital maneuver sent Luna-25 into an unexpected trajectory, one in which the moon lander “ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface,” Roscosmos wrote.

Luna-25 was hoped to be a major space milestone for Russia. The last moon probe from the country was Luna-24 in 1976, when Russia was still part of the Soviet Union. That probe landed in the moon’s Sea of Crises (Mare Crisium) and ferried a sample back to Earth, a few years after the last human moon landing by NASA in 1972. Luna-25 was targeted to touch down near the south pole of the moon, where the probe was to spend one Earth year searching for water ice and performing a number of scientific investigations.