Attempted Russian Moon Landing Ends in Crash

Luna-25 was Russia's first lunar mission in decades

Luna-25 launching
The Soyuz-2.1b rocket carrying the Luna-25 lunar station blasts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Oblast of Russia's Far East on Aug. 11, 2023.
Xinhua via Getty Images

Sending a mission to the Moon is a challenge all its own, with countless variables involved and an abundance of engineering and precision required to pull things off. But just getting a mission into orbit over the Moon is only one part of a much larger task; for the space agencies involved, there’s also the problem of making sure that the mission lands correctly and safely. Unfortunately for Russia’s space agency, Luna-25 — the country’s first foray to the Moon since 1976 — has just crashed on the lunar surface.

On Saturday, the Associated Press reported that Russia’s space agency Roscosmos had stated that “an abnormal situation occurred onboard the automatic station” — one that had interfered with the planned lunar landing. By Sunday afternoon, CNN reported that Luna-25 had indeed crashed while attempting to land. What precisely caused the lander to crash on the Moon’s surface remains unknown.

This is the second high-profile lunar mission to crash on the Moon’s surface this year, following a private mission that failed to land in April.

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That said, there is a third Moon mission on its way to see if can succeed where two others have failed this. That would be Chandrayaan-3, representing India’s space program. The mission has already sent detailed images of the lunar surface back to Earth already, and is preparing to attempt a landing later this week. The stakes for its success just got that much higher.

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