Russia has successfully launched a new mission to the moon

Russia has successfully launched a new mission to the moon

The Shuz rocket that will take Luna-25 to the moon lifts off from the Vostotshny launch site.Image via Reuters

With Luna 25, which is set to touch down on the moon’s south pole in just over ten days, Russia is joining the international space race to the closest celestial body for the first time since 1976. Until the 1990s, only the United States and the Soviet Union sent spacecraft to the moon. Meanwhile, Europe, China, India, Israel and South Korea have launched missions to the moon.

The Chuze rocket that will take Luna-25 to the moon was launched from Cosmodrome Vostotchny, the launch site 5,550 kilometers east of the capital, Moscow. The Russian space agency Roscosmos captured the launch live. Due to the danger of falling parts of the missiles, more than two dozen residents of a nearby village were temporarily evacuated.

The Russians hope Luna-25 will reach the moon before India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission. A lander from this country is currently in lunar orbit. It is expected to hit the lunar surface on August 23. The Russian lunar mission is scheduled to land in the previous days.

Soil testing

If Luna-25 reaches the Moon in one piece, this probe will do soil research for a year. Ice can be found in craters on the Moon’s south pole, which have so far only been studied from space. The Russian probe will use a robotic arm to collect samples from 15 centimeters below the surface of the moon.

Until recently, ESA also participated in Luna missions, but after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ESA pulled out. Therefore, the plan to equip Luna-25 with a European camera was not implemented. The European Space Agency now wants to send its camera along with a commercial mission to land on the moon next year.

Although the Russian launch is now a success, the dangers of Luna-25 are far from over. Figures from the space agency NASA show that nearly half of all trips to the Moon are abortive. In only a portion of lunar missions, the goal is to land on the lunar surface: usually the mission is limited to orbiting or flying near the moon.

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