Russia joined the growing list of lunar lander failures today. Luna-25 crashed into the Moon following an anomaly yesterday after a command was sent to change the spacecraft’s orbit. Communications were lost and the spacecraft crashed into the surface. Luna-25 is the fifth lunar probe in a row launched by several countries and companies to fail since 2019. India was one of those failures in 2019, but it will try again with Chandrayaan-3, which is orbiting the Moon right now with landing scheduled for Wednesday.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos posted on Telegram that Luna-25 crashed into the surface after a loss of communications following a command to fire the engine and change orbits.
On August 19, in accordance with the flight program of the Luna-25 spacecraft, it was planned to issue an impulse to form its pre-landing elliptical orbit.
At about 14:57 Moscow time, communication with the Luna-25 spacecraft was interrupted.
The measures taken on August 19 and 20 to search for the device and get into contact with it did not produce any results.
According to the results of the preliminary analysis, due to the deviation of the actual parameters of the impulse from the calculated ones, the device switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the lunar surface.
A specially formed interdepartmental commission will deal with the issues of clarifying the reasons for the loss of the Moon.
t.me/roscosmos_gk/10540 320.1K views edited Aug 20 at 04:47 (Translated by Google)
Moscow-based Russian space enthusiast Katya Pavlushchenko tweeted that rumors are that the impulse from the engine was “1.5 times higher than expected,” but that is not confirmed. The special commission will officially investigate what happened.
#Luna25 Rumors say, during the attempt to lower the orbit’s pericenter, the impulse turned out to be 1.5 times higher than expected.
— Katya Pavlushchenko (@katlinegrey) August 19, 2023
Launched on August 10 EDT (August 11 Moscow Time), Luna-25 was Russia’s first lunar probe since 1976. Roscosmos revealed the problem with Luna-25 yesterday almost immediately after the anomaly occurred.
In the early years of the Space Age, the Soviet Union sent many successful robotic probes to the Moon with many “firsts” such as the first images of the far side of the Moon, the first robotic sample return, and the first robotic rover on another celestial body. Those achievements were largely eclipsed by the U.S. Apollo program that sent not only robotic probes, but astronauts to the Moon.
Interest in the Moon has burgeoned since U.S. instruments detected water at the Moon’s South Pole, possibly remnants of comet impacts over the eons. With the advent of “New Space” small spacecraft, lunar landers are within reach not only of space agencies, but non-profits and commercial companies.
Four lunar landers have been launched since 2019 by two space agencies (India’s Chandrayaan-2 and Japan’s OMONTENASHI cubesat), a non-profit (Israel’s SpaceIL with its Beresheet lander) and a commercial company (Japan’s ispace with its HAKUTO-R M1 lander that carried a UAE rover).
The success rate for those was zero. Luna-25 makes it five in a row.
India is trying again with Chandrayaan-3, which arrived in lunar orbit on August 5. The Indian Space Research Organisation tweeted this morning that all is well. The plan is to land on Wednesday at 18:04 India Standard Time, which is 8:34 am Eastern Daylight Time. Hopefully this will be the mission that turns the tide.
🇮🇳Chandrayaan-3 is set to land on the moon 🌖on August 23, 2023, around 18:04 Hrs. IST.
Thanks for the wishes and positivity!
— ISRO (@isro) August 20, 2023
At least two U.S. commercial lunar landers are scheduled for launch this year as well. Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander on November 15 and Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander whenever the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket is ready to make its first flight. Another Intuitive Machines lander is on NASA’s books for launch this year, but is expected to slip to 2024. Both companies are part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program to deliver payloads to the Moon for NASA and other customers on a commercial basis.
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