Promise the Moon: Russia Launches Luna-25 Attempting First Soft Landing on the South Pole of Earth’s Satellite – Arrival Is To Coincide With India’s Lunar Mission

Target of a myriad of economic sanctions, and in the middle of the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine, Russia took an important step in the path back to Space superpower status with the launch of its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years.

The mission aims to place the Russians as first nation to make a ‘soft landing’ on the lunar south pole, considered the most promising area for human exploration.

A Soyuz 2.1 rocket carrying lift off from the Vostochny cosmodrome the carrying the Luna-25 craft. The lander is expected to touch down on the moon on Aug. 21, which – probably not coincidentally, is the expected date of arrival of the Indian Lunar mission that aims to land in the same region.

Reuters reported:

“The Russian lunar mission, the first since 1976, is racing against India, which launched its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander last month, and more broadly with the United States and China, both of which have advanced lunar exploration programs targeting the lunar south pole.

[..] The lander was boosted out of Earth’s orbit toward the moon over an hour later, at which point mission control took command of the craft, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.”

No country has ever made a successful soft landing on the south pole. An earlier Indian mission, Chandrayaan-2, attempted – and failed – it in 2019.

“Luna-25, roughly the size of a small car, will aim to operate for a year on the moon’s south pole, where scientists at NASA and other space agencies in recent years have detected traces of water ice in the region’s shadowed craters.”

The Luna-25 mission is primarily a clear demonstration of the might of the Russian aerospace sector, heavily targeted by western sanctions that, Putin wants to demonstrate, have failed to cripple the Russian capabilities.

“The moonshot, which Russia has been planning for decades, will also test the nation’s growing independence in space after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine severed nearly all of Moscow’s space ties with the West, besides its integral role on the International Space Station.”

The lunar south pole has a very rough terrain that makes a landing hard to achieve, but it’s also the region that holds the greatest prize: water ice deposits.

Three countries have performed moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China. India and Russia are now literally racing to be the first to land at the moon’s south pole.

Associated Press reported:

“The Russian lunar lander is expected to reach the moon on Aug. 23, about the same day as an Indian craft which was launched on July 14. The Russian spacecraft will take about 5.5 days to travel to the moon’s vicinity, then spend three to seven days orbiting at about 100 kilometers (62 miles) before heading for the surface.

Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, wants to show they are capable of delivering a payload to the moon, and ‘ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to the moon’s surface’.

“The lunar south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe the permanently shadowed polar craters may contain water. The frozen water in the rocks could be transformed by future explorers into air and rocket fuel.

‘The moon is largely untouched and the whole history of the moon is written on its face’, said Ed Bloomer, an astronomer at Britain’s Royal Observatory, Greenwich. ‘It is pristine and like nothing you get on Earth. It is its own laboratory.’

The Luna-25 is to take samples of moon rock and dust. The samples are crucial to understanding the moon’s environment ahead of building any base there, ‘otherwise we could be building things and having to shut them down six months later because everything has effectively been sand-blasted’, Bloomer said.”

Read More about India’s competing Lunar mission below:

Over the Moon: Indian PM Narendra Modi Celebrates ‘Fall of Bastille’ With France’s Macron, While Chandrayaan-3 Mission Takes off for Lunar Landing That Can Establish India as a Major Space Power

This post was originally published on this site