The first Russian mission to the Moon in nearly half a century could be in serious trouble.
The Luna-25 spacecraft was supposed to maneuver into its final pre-landing orbit around the Moon today (August 19), before attempting a landing on Monday (August 21) or thereabouts. But the probe ran into trouble while the engine was burning.
“During the operation, an emergency situation occurred on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed by the established parameters,” Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, wrote in a message. Update on Telegram Today (in Russian; Google translation). “The management team is currently analyzing the situation.”
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That’s all we have to move on for now. But, as is often the case, the information vacuum was filled by speculation.
“The Russian Internet is now full of rumors/failure scenarios, and most of them assume that Luna-Glob (#Luna25) is gone. One of the arguments is – if the problem wasn’t fatal, Roscosmos would never have mentioned it! ;)” Anatoly Zak from RussianSpaceWeb.com Books on X (formerly Twitter) today.
If Luna-25 does indeed die, it would be a major blow to the Russian space program. Luna-25 is the first moon mission developed by modern Russia, and the first for it or its former country, the Soviet Union, since Luna-24 in 1976.
Luna-25 launched on August 10 and reached lunar orbit six days later. It is supposed to land near the moon’s south pole, possibly on Monday.
The probe carries eight different scientific instruments. If it recovers from the day’s glitch, Luna-25 will use that gear to search for water ice and conduct a variety of investigations in the exotic Antarctic region, which hasn’t hosted a lander or rover yet.
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