Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on the Moon because its engines couldn’t shut down, space agency chief admits as he’s dragged on state TV to explain the latest failure by Putin
- Borisov blamed Russia’s decades-long hiatus from lunar exploration for the accident.
The Luna-25 spacecraft crashed on the Moon after its engines failed to shut down properly, the head of the Russian space agency has said.
Roscosmos Director General Yury Borisov was dragged on state television yesterday to explain Vladimir Putin’s latest failure and blamed the country’s decades-long hiatus in lunar exploration for the mishap.
The unmanned Luna-25 was scheduled to touch down on Monday in a bid to become the first spacecraft to land at the Moon’s south pole, an area where scientists believe significant stores of frozen water and valuable elements may exist.
But Mr Borisov said the spacecraft’s engines were ignited over the weekend to place Luna-25 in a “pre-landing orbit”, but failed to shut down properly, plunging the lander on the moon.
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three countries have had successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States, and China.
The Luna-25 spacecraft (pictured taking off on August 11) crashed into the Moon after its engines failed to shut down properly, the head of the Russian space agency has said.
Roscosmos chief executive Yury Borisov (pictured yesterday on Russia 24) was dragged on state television today to explain Vladimir Putin’s latest failure and blamed the country’s decades-long hiatus in lunar exploration .
Roscosmos was in contact with the spacecraft until 2:57 p.m. local time on Saturday, when communication was lost and “the device entered open lunar orbit and crashed on the surface of the Moon”. Pictured: The lunar lander’s Luna 25 automatic station on its journey to the Moon on August 16
“Instead of the intended 84 seconds, it worked for 127 seconds. That was the main reason for the urgency,’ Mr Borisov told Russian news channel Russia 24.
He revealed that the Roscosmos had been in contact with the spacecraft until 2:57 p.m. local time on Saturday when communication was lost and “the craft passed into open lunar orbit and crashed into the surface of the Moon”.
“The negative experience of interrupting the lunar program for almost 50 years is the main reason for the failures,” Borisov said, adding that “it would be the worst decision ever” for Russia to end the program. NOW.
Luna-25 was launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East on August 10. The spaceport is a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and key to his efforts to make Russia a space superpower.
Ahead of the launch, Roscosmos said it wanted to show that Russia “is a state capable of delivering a payload to the Moon” and “ensuring Russia’s guaranteed access to the surface of the Moon.”
After the crash, the Russian space agency said the moon mission was aimed at ensuring long-term “defense capability” as well as “technological sovereignty”.
“The race to develop the Moon’s natural resources has begun,” Borisov said.
“In the future, the Moon will become an ideal platform for deep space exploration.”
Sanctions imposed on Russia since it launched a war in Ukraine nearly 18 months ago have affected its space program, making it more difficult to access Western technology.
The unmanned Luna-25 was Russia’s first attempt to land on the Moon since 1976
The Luna-25 was originally intended to carry a small rover, but the idea was scrapped to reduce the craft’s weight for better reliability, analysts said.
The lunar south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe the permanently shadowed polar craters could hold frozen water in rocks that future explorers could turn into air and rocket fuel.
The Lunar-25 had been in a race with an Indian spacecraft which launched on July 14 to be the first to reach the South Pole. The two were scheduled to reach the Moon between August 21 and 23.
A previous Indian attempt to land at the Moon’s south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the Moon’s surface.