New Delhi: Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft has crashed into the Moon’s surface, the country’s space agency Roscosmos confirmed on Sunday (August 20).
“At about 14:57 Moscow time [on August 19], communication with the Luna-25 spacecraft was interrupted,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
It continued: “According to the results of a preliminary analysis … the spacecraft switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface.”
Luna-25 was scheduled to attempt a soft landing on the Moon’s surface near its south pole on August 21 or 22, just days before India’s Chandrayaan-3 was to make its own attempt on August 23.
While Chandrayaan-3 was launched from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre on July 14, Luna-25 left the Earth just nine days ago on August 11 and had taken a more direct route to the Moon than its Indian counterpart.
Chandrayaan-3’s lander module – which also houses a small rover – separated from its main spacecraft on Thursday (August 17) afternoon.
The leftover part, which is known as the propulsion module, will orbit the Moon, just as an orbiter component from the previous Chandrayaan-2 is doing currently.
Russia and India were seen as ‘racing’ to the previously unexplored lunar south pole region, where no spacecraft has successfully attempted a soft landing.
The area has attracted scientific interest for potentially containing water ice.
Meanwhile, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released pictures taken by a unit in Chandrayaan-3’s lander on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday (August 18).
— ISRO (@isro) August 18, 2023