Russian lunar craft successfully enters lunar orbit, nearing moon landing
The nation’s lunar spacecraft has triumphantly achieved lunar orbit, marking a pivotal moment in its aspirations for a moon landing. After almost half a century since its last lunar mission, Moscow’s ambition to reach the moon’s southern pole in search of frozen water is edging closer to reality.
The Luna-25 spacecraft, which was launched from Earth on August 10th, gracefully entered lunar orbit at 12:03 PM local time in Russia on Wednesday, according to statements from Russia’s space agency, Roskosmos.
“A spokesperson for Roscosmos reported, “For the first time in Russia’s contemporary history, an automatic station was placed in lunar orbit at 12:03 PM Moscow time,” speaking to the AFP news agency”.
Over the course of the next five days, the probe is set to orbit at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the moon’s surface before its planned landing on Monday, August 21st, positioned north of the Boguslawsky crater on the moon’s southern pole.
“Notably, India’s Chandrayaan-3 achieved lunar orbit earlier this month, anticipating a future landing on the moon’s southern pole”.
“About the size of a small car, the Luna-25’s primary objective is to remain operational for a year on the moon’s southern pole. This region has garnered attention due to recent findings by the US space agency NASA and other international space organizations, which have indicated the presence of frozen water within the moon’s craters”.
“Uncovering water on the lunar surface carries profound implications for major players in space exploration. It holds the potential to support extended human stays on the moon, paving the way for lunar resource mining”.
The Luna-25’s mission is a cornerstone of Russia’s comprehensive lunar program, with the ultimate goal of establishing a space station on the moon by 2040.
The last time a Russian spacecraft entered lunar orbit was during Luna-24, the Soviet Union’s 1976 lunar mission. According to Anatoly Zak, the creator and publisher of RussianSpaceWeb.com, a platform that follows Russia’s space endeavors, “Entering lunar orbit is absolutely critical for the success of this project.” He added, “This is a first for the post-Soviet period.”
“Roscosmos initially collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) on Russia’s lunar program. However, this partnership came to an end after Russia’s extensive incursion into Ukraine in February 2022. Despite the geopolitical challenges, Russia’s lunar ambition continues to surge forward, with experts like Zak highlighting the broader strategy that underpins this momentous undertaking”.