Russia to Launch Lunar Landing Craft After 47-Year Hiatus

Russia is set to launch its first lunar landing spacecraft in nearly five decades, marking a race with India to reach the south pole of the moon, a potential source of resources for future human missions.

The launch will occur from the Vostochny cosmodrome, situated 3,450 miles (5,550 km) east of Moscow. It comes just four weeks after India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander was sent into space, with plans to touch down at the moon’s pole on August 23.

The challenge of landing at the lunar south pole lies in its rough terrain, yet this region is highly desirable due to the belief that it contains substantial amounts of ice. This ice could be vital for extracting fuel, generating oxygen, and providing drinking water for potential lunar inhabitants.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, stated that its Luna-25 spacecraft will take approximately five days to travel to the moon. Subsequently, it will spend five to seven days in lunar orbit before descending onto one of three potential landing sites near the south pole. This timeline suggests that Russia could potentially match or slightly outpace India’s lunar landing.

Roscosmos also clarified that the two missions will not interfere with each other since they are targeting different landing areas. “There is no danger that they interfere with each other or collide. There is enough space for everyone on the moon,” they stated.

While Chandrayaan-3 is anticipated to conduct experiments over a two-week period, Luna-25 will operate on the moon’s surface for an entire year. Weighing 1.8 tons and carrying 31 kg (68 pounds) of scientific equipment, Luna-25 will use a scoop to collect rock samples up to 15 cm (6 inches) deep to analyze the presence of frozen water that could support human life.

Lev Zeleny, a space researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, commented, “The moon is the seventh continent of the Earth so we are simply ‘condemned,’ as it were, to tame it.”

Originally scheduled for October 2021, the Luna-25 launch faced delays of nearly two years. The European Space Agency had intended to test its Pilot-D navigation camera with the spacecraft but severed its ties following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in February of the previous year.

In preparation for the launch, residents of a village in Russia’s far east will be temporarily evacuated from their homes due to a remote possibility of a rocket stage falling to earth. Local officials have arranged for their safe relocation, allowing them to observe the launch and receive breakfast before returning home.

Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw is a seasoned conservative news journalist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Richard is known for his insightful reporting on national and international affairs, as well as his in-depth analysis of political and cultural issues.

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