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Russia says Luna-25 probe crashed into moon

August 20, 2023

The Roscosmos space agency had earlier reported an "abnormal situation" on Luna-25, Russia's first moon probe in almost 50 years.

Russland Raketenbooster mit Luna-25-Mondlander startet am Kosmodrom Wostotschny
A rocket carrying the probe took off more than a week ago from the Russian Far EastImage: Sergei Savostyanov/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

Russia's space corporation Roscosmos said on Sunday that its Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon after it spun into uncontrolled orbit.

The mission was the first stage of Russia's new lunar program and Luna-25 was Moscow's first moon probe since 1976.

Russian lunar lander crashes into the moon

What we know so far

The Russian space agency on Saturday said there had been an "abnormal situation" during an operation to bring the craft into a landing pre-orbit.

Preliminary findings, it said on Sunday, showed the lander "has ceased to exist following a collision with the Moon's surface."

Russia moon crash: Former NASA employee speaks to DW

"During the operation, an unplanned situation arose on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be carried out under the given parameters."

Specialists are investigating the incident to determine the cause, Roscosmos said.

The probe had been due to touch down near the lunar South Pole on Monday. Among its tasks was a search for water, with Russia aiming to establish a base on the Moon by 2040.

The rocket took off last week from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, in Russia's Far East region.

West cuts cooperation with Moscow on space

Roscosmos had originally cooperated with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the lunar program. However, after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, ESA ended its work with Moscow.

Russia's access to Western technology has been curtailed since sanctions were imposed over the invasion. 

The Luna-25 had been set to carry a small moon rover, but that plan had to be abandoned to reduce weight and improve reliability.

Russia has considered various moon missions in the past decades, but all had to be delayed or shelved.

The failure of Russia's 2011 Phobos-Grunt mission to one of the moons of Mars highlighted the challenges that have faced Russia's space program. The spacecraft did not even fully exit the earth's orbit and fell into the Pacific Ocean more than two months after launch.

Russia launches its first moon mission in nearly 50 years

rc/fb (AFP, Reuters, dpa)