Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashes into the moon, ending its bid to reach the lunar south pole
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon after it spun into an uncontrolled orbit, the country’s Roscosmos space agency said Sunday.
The pilotless spacecraft was aiming to be the first ever to land on the south pole of the moon, an area where scientists believe there could be important reserves of frozen water and precious elements. It had been expected to land Monday.
However, Roscosmos said it lost contact with the Luna-25 on Saturday after the spacecraft ran into difficulties and reported an “abnormal situation.”
“The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon,” read a statement from the agency.
The Luna-25 was in a race with an Indian spacecraft launched on July 14 to be the first to reach the south pole. Both were expected to reach the moon between August 21 and 23.
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three governments have managed successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
The lunar south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe the permanently shadowed polar craters may contain frozen water in the rocks that future explorers could transform into air and rocket fuel.
A previous Indian attempt to land at the south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface.
Roscosmos said it wanted to show Russia “is a state capable of delivering a payload to the moon,” and “ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to the moon’s surface.”