As NASA continues to work towards landing on Moon with its Artemis mission, Russian Space Agency Roscosmos has launched the uncrewed Luna-25 spacecraft to the Moon.
The spacecraft was launched in the early hours of Friday local time from Vostochny Cosmodrome on a Soyuz-2 Fregat rocket. The Luna-25 aims to land on the lunar South Pole and operate there for a year. The mission marks Russia’s return to the Moon in 47 years since 1976.
“Upon reaching the Moon, it will go into lunar orbit for 5 to 7 days and then drop to the surface near the South Pole. Once landed, it will conduct long-term scientific research on the Moon,” said Benzinga.
“Initially, Luna-25 was expected to reach its destination by Aug. 23rd, however there are suggestions that the date may be advanced to Aug. 21,” said certain local media reports.
Russia, formerly part of the U.S.S.R, made the first impact on Moon in 1959 with its Luna 2 mission. It took another 5 years until 1964 for a U.S. mission to the moon to succeed.
“In 1966, the USSR made a successful lunar soft landing. However, since its successful Luna 24 mission in 1976, Russia has made no attempts to return,” said Benzinga.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is now gearing up for the Artemis II mission slated for November 2024. Four chosen astronauts will fly around the moon aboard the Orion Spacecraft and will be the first humans to venture farthest from the Earth’s low earth orbit since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
The mission is the second of the two test flights planned before the U.S. return to the lunar surface in Artemis III in 2025.
Luna will also be up against India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission which was launched last month and is expected to land on the Moon’s South Pole around the same time on Aug. 23.
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Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager