Russian spacecraft Luna-25 crashed into the Moon because its engines couldn’t stop, space agency chief admits as he’s dragged onto state TV to explain Putin’s latest failure
Russian spacecraft Luna-25 crashed into moon because engines failed to stop, space agency chief admits as he is dragged to state television to explain Putin’s latest failure
- Borisov blamed Russia’s decades-long pause in lunar exploration for the accident
The Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon after its engines failed to shut down properly, the head of the Russian space agency said.
Roscosmos director general Yury Borisov was dragged to state television yesterday to explain Vladimir Putin’s latest failure, blaming the country’s decades-long pause in lunar exploration for the mishap.
The pilotless Luna-25 was set to land on Monday in a bid to become the first spacecraft to land at the moon’s south pole, an area where scientists believe important stores of frozen water and precious elements may exist.
But Mr Borisov said the spacecraft’s engines were turned on over the weekend to put Luna-25 into a “pre-landing orbit” but failed to stop properly, causing the lander to crash into the moon.
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three countries have successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
The Luna-25 spacecraft (pictured during liftoff on Aug. 11) crashed into the moon after its engines failed to shut down properly, the head of the Russian space agency said.
Roscosmos director general Yury Borisov (pictured yesterday on Russia 24) was dragged to state television today to explain Vladimir Putin’s latest failure, blaming the country’s decades-long pause in lunar exploration before the accident
The Roscosmos was in contact with the spacecraft until 2:57 p.m. local time on Saturday, when communications were lost and “the device entered open lunar orbit and crashed into the surface of the moon.” Pictured: The Luna 25 automatic station on its way to the moon on Aug. 16
“Instead of the planned 84 seconds, we succeeded for 127 seconds. This was the main reason for the emergency,” Borisov told Russia’s state news channel Russia 24.
He revealed that the Roscosmos was in contact with the spacecraft until 2:57 p.m. local time on Saturday, when communications were lost and “the device entered 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 “it would be the worst decision ever” if Russia terminated the program now.
Luna-25 was launched on August 10 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. The spaceport is a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and key to his efforts to make Russia a space superpower.
Before 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 lunar surface.”
After the crash, the Russian space agency said the moon mission was about ensuring both “defense capability” and “technological sovereignty” in the long run.
“The race to develop the natural resources of the moon is on,” said Borisov.
“In the future, the moon will be an ideal platform for deep space exploration.”
Sanctions imposed on Russia since it went to war in Ukraine nearly 18 months ago are affecting 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 initially intended to carry a small rover, but the idea was abandoned in order to reduce the craft’s weight for greater reliability, analysts said.
The moon’s south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe the permanently shadowed polar craters may hold frozen water in the rocks that future explorers could convert into air and rocket fuel.
Lunar-25 was in a race with an Indian spacecraft launched on July 14 to be the first to reach the South Pole. Both would reach the moon between August 21 and August 23.
A previous Indian attempt to land on the moon’s south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the lunar surface.