The first Russian lunar mission in nearly half a century ended with a bang.
The Luna-25, which left earth on August 10, crash-landed on the moon nine days later after an incident involving the pre-landing maneuvers malfunctioned, Russian space agency Roscosmos said late Saturday on its Telegram channel.
According to Roscosmos, the last communication with the spacecraft was at 2:57 p.m. Moscow time (13:57 CEST) on Saturday. Efforts after that to get back in contact with the craft did not produce any results, the agency said.
A specially formed commission will now look at why the Luna craft malfunctioned, Roscosmos said.
Russia’s Luna-25 mission was sent to scope out the lunar south pole, where scientists believe there is a plentiful supply of water locked in ice in the perpetual shade of mountain ridges. Firming up water reserves is a critical requirement for supporting life on the moon with breathable oxygen, drinking water and even rocket fuel, which would then help space-faring nations further explore the cosmos from any lunar outpost in the future.
Other countries are also eyeing the moon’s southern region. The U.S. plans to send a mission to the south pole later this decade as part of its Artemis program supported by Canada and European countries.
More immediately, India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission is scheduled to land on the lunar surface on August 23 to explore the south pole. An earlier Indian mission crashed in 2019.