Failure of the Russian lunar mission Luna 25

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Russia has failed to return to our natural satellite after 47 years of absence.

In line with Luna 24

The last Soviet probe sent to the Moon and deposited in a controlled manner on its surface dates back to August 1976, with the mission Moon 24.

It had made it possible to collect and bring back to Earth a few tens of grams of regolithfour years after the last American manned mission (Apollo 17).

On August 10, 2023, the Russia has finally made its way back to our natural satellite, successfully shipping the probe Moon 25 from the cosmodrome Vostochnylocated southeast of the Siberiausing a launcher Soyuz 2.1b / Fregat.

Two main scientific objectives

Luna 25 is the first mission of the exploration program Luna Globecomposed of four probes to be launched by 2030: an orbiter and three landers, including one responsible for carrying out a sample return mission.

The scout probe had to land gently near the crater Boguslawskynear the south pole of the visible side of the Moon.

The two main scientific objectives were the study of the composition of the polar regolith, and the study of the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere.

To do this, the probe carried eight scientific instruments, and was equipped with a robotic arm.

Fatal Abnormal Maneuver

At 8:57 a.m. on August 16, after just over five uneventful days of travel, Luna 25 had successfully placed itself in a 100 km high circular polar orbit and then transmitted its first views of the lunar surface.

On August 19, the probe (whose perigee had been lowered to 12 km) had reignited its engine at 11:10 a.m., to reach a pre-landing orbit.

But communications were lost 47 minutes later: the engine ran longer than necessary, causing the probe to crash fatally on the surface of the Moon.

Russia even more isolated

Luna 25 was expected to be the mission of rebirth, affirming Russia’s technological might and the vigor of its space program.

The latter, in decline for several decades, seems even more weakened and isolated since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, but is not moribund either: Russia remains to this day the third world power in terms of orbital achievements. , behind the United States and China.

The failure of Luna 25 also comes at a time when Moscow wishes to strengthen its space cooperation with Beijing, notably around a common inhabited base project on the Moon.

John Walker Avatar