Russia’s reactivation of lunar exploration via its Luna 25 robotic lander has slipped to 2023.
The postponement was announced to the Russian news agency TASS by Yuri Borisov, the head of the Russian space agency. Roscosmos, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, Wednesday 7 September. When asked if Moon 25 had slipped to next year, Borisov replied: “Unfortunately, yes,” TASS reported (opens in a new tab).
Apparently a speed and distance sensor that will help the lander make a safe and smooth landing on the moon underperformed in testing, leading to this month’s delay to 2023. The sensor was made by Vega Concern, a member of Rostec’s holding company Ruselectronics, which is owned by the Rostech State Corporation, according to TASS .
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Landing at the South Pole
Luna 25 will be the first mission in modern Russian history to head to the moon. (The Soviet Union, which collapsed in the early 1990s, sent a series of probes to Earth’s nearest neighbor.) The probe is targeted for a region of the moon’s south pole, landing near the Boguslavsky crater.
A “reserve area” for landing craft is located southwest of Manzini Crater.
The Russian robotic lunar lander was built and tested by aerospace company NPO Lavochkin. The planned Luna 25 launch has slipped several times, from last year to May to August, then September 2022 – and now 2023.
Soil sampling tasks
Luna 25 will study the upper surface layer and the vaporous lunar atmosphere and help develop landing and soil sampling technologies. The claimed active life of the probe on the lunar surface is at least one Earth year.
This Russian lunar mission continues the series of lunar exploration activities of the former Soviet Union which ended in 1976, when Moon 24 successfully delivered approximately 6 ounces (170 grams) of lunar soil to Earth.
The Luna 25 mission is to be followed by the Luna 26 orbiter and a Luna 27 landing vehicle, after which Russia will begin deploying a scientific station on the moon in collaboration with China.
Prior to The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) was to provide the European Pilot-D camera, specially designed to help land Luna 25 on the Moon. After the February invasion, ESA canceled camera cooperation, among a number of other collaborative space projects with Russia.
Leonard David is the author of the book “Moon Rush: The New Space Race”, published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime author for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).