In the midst of the escalating race for space exploration and the colonization of planets, moons, and exoplanets within our solar system, Russia is preparing for its first lunar mission in almost five decades. This comes shortly after India launched its own lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, directed towards our natural satellite.
The upcoming Russian mission aims to touch down on the moon’s south pole, recognized as a potential water source to support future human endeavors on the lunar surface. After undergoing several delays, the Russian lunar lander is now set to take off in the early hours of this Friday.
Marking Russia’s first lunar mission since 1976, the Luna-25 lander aims to revive and build upon the pioneering Soviet-era lunar program. The Russian space agency announced that a Soyuz rocket has been assembled at the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East for the launch.
Scheduled for August 11, the Luna-25 mission involves the lander practicing a soft landing, collecting and analyzing soil samples, and undertaking extensive scientific investigations. The four-legged lander, weighing around 800 kilograms, is intended to touch down in the vicinity of the lunar south pole, a departure from the common practice of landing near the lunar equator.
This launch serves as the inaugural mission within Moscow’s new lunar program, occurring at a time when Russia is seeking to strengthen its space cooperation with China due to strained relations with the West. Following Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) withdrew from collaborations with Russia, including the Luna-25 launch and the subsequent 26 and 27 missions. Despite this setback, Russia expressed its commitment to proceeding with lunar exploration plans by replacing ESA equipment with domestically produced scientific instruments.
Notably, during an appearance at the Vostochny Cosmodrome last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that despite past “total” sanctions, the Soviet Union achieved the remarkable feat of sending the first human into space in 1961. He affirmed that Moscow would continue developing its lunar program in the face of present Western sanctions.