Russia’s First Lunar Mission In Decades Abruptly Ends In Failure

[Screenshot/YouTube/The Economic Times]

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Russia’s first lunar mission in nearly 50 years ended in failure Saturday after its Luna-25 spacecraft collided with the Moon’s surface ahead of its planned landing on Monday.

Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, revealed that, at approximately 2:57 p.m. Moscow time, communications with the Luna-25 were lost, CNN reported. A preliminary investigation into the matter revealed that prior to losing communication, the spacecraft “switched to an off-design orbit,” causing it to spiral out of control as it was trying to enter a pre-landing orbit.

“During the operation, an emergency situation occurred on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed with the specified parameters,” Roscosmos announced, according to CNN.

“The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon,” Roscosmos added, according to Reuters.

Russia’s lunar mission, its first since 1976, was undertaken, in part, to show that Russia could still compete with the world’s superpowers despite its post-Soviet decline, the outlet stated. During the Soviet years, Russia — then the U.S.S.R. — made history by being the first country to put a satellite into orbit with Sputnik. Russia was also the first country to send a man into space, namely Yuri Gagarin in 1961. Russia then became the first country to send a woman into outer space when Valentina Tereshkova embarked on a solo flight in 1963. (RELATED: Bolder Space Policy Needed To Focus On America’s National Security And Economy)

The Luna-25’s failure comes just days before India’s Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to make a landing on the Moon’s south pole, Reuters reported.