Russia’s highly anticipated lunar endeavor, its first in 47 years, suffered a significant setback as the Luna-25 spacecraft veered out of control and crashed into the moon, as stated by Russia’s state space corporation, Roscosmos, on Sunday.
Roscosmos acknowledged the loss of communication with the spacecraft shortly after an anomaly occurred during its transition into a pre-landing orbit on Saturday.
“The vehicle entered an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist due to a collision with the lunar surface,” Roscosmos stated in an official release.
The failure of this high-profile mission underscores Russia’s waning influence in space since its heyday during the Cold War rivalry. During that era, Moscow achieved historical milestones like the launch of the first Earth-orbiting satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, and the momentous journey of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the inaugural human to venture into space in 1961.
Russia had abstained from lunar missions since Luna-24 in 1976, a period when Leonid Brezhnev was at the helm of the Kremlin. The goal of Luna-25 was to achieve a gentle landing on the moon’s southern pole on August 21, as outlined by Russian space authorities.
Russia had been engaged in a race against India, where the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is poised to touch down on the moon’s southern pole this week. This competition also extends more broadly to China and the United States, both of which harbor ambitious lunar exploration plans.