Russia's Lunar Mission Fails as Lander Crashes into Moon

Aug 21, 2023

Russia’s latest attempt to reignite its space program went up in figurative and literal smoke Sunday morning. Its unmanned Luna-25 rocket crashed into the moon. The landing would’ve been Russia’s first successful lunar mission since 1976. It was seen by many as a vital step in the ongoing space race between the US, Russia, and other world powers. 

Roscosmos is Russia’s state space corporation. It launched Luna-25 on August 10. The mission planned to touch down on the moon’s south pole on August 21. All seemed well until Saturday morning, Roscosmos reported. That's when they lost contact with Luna-25. It reported an “abnormal situation.” It became clear shortly after that the mission failed. 

The Luna-25 "ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

Luna-25’s stated purpose had been to explore pockets of water on the moon’s surface. But many experts saw a global message behind the timing of the mission. India launched its own mission to the moon on August 14. Its rocket is set to land sometime between August 21-23. Russia had hoped to show that it is still a player in space exploration. The failure of this mission has left some worried about the country’s space program.  

A former Soviet astronomer told a Russian newspaper he was sad to learn the news about the Luna-25. “This was perhaps the last hope for me to see a revival of our lunar program,” he said. 

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: What are some challenges scientists might face when trying to land a spacecraft on the moon?

What is the main idea of the story? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. India's mission to explore the moon's water pockets
b. the challenges faced by Russia's space agency in launching Luna-25
c. the significance of global lunar exploration and its impact on space agencies
d. Russia's failed attempt to land Luna-25 on the moon due to loss of control
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