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Russian spacecraft crashes into moon, failing miserably

The moon. (Dreamstime/TNS)
August 21, 2023

Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft crashed into the moon over the weekend during the nation’s first lunar mission in nearly 50 years.

According to Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, communications with Luna 25 were cut on Saturday just before 3 p.m. in Moscow.

“The measures taken on August 19 and 20 to search for the device and get into contact with it did not yield any results,” the space agency said, according to CNN.

A “preliminary analysis” showed the spacecraft “switched to an off-design orbit” before it collided with the moon.

It is unclear what caused the wreck. Roscosmos said a special commission will investigate the crash.

One day before the lunar mission’s dramatic conclusion, Luna 25 reported an “emergency situation” while attempting to enter pre-landing orbit, the agency added.

“During the operation, an emergency situation occurred on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed with the specified parameters,” Roscosmos said in a post on Telegram.

Russia’s last successful lunar mission took place on August 18, 1976, when the Luna 24 landed on the surface of the moon. Russian officials hoped Luna 25 would provide the modern foundation for future missions, with several spacecraft already scheduled to use the same design.

“They were having a lot of problems with quality control, corruption, with funding,” said Victoria Samson, the Washington office director for Secure World Foundation.

NASA’s former head of science, Thomas Zurbuchen, showed support for the team behind Russia’s failed moon landing.

“Too bad to read this. None of us ever wishes bad onto other explorers. Hope this can be fixed,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We are reminded that landing on any celestial object is anything but easy & straightforward. Just because others managed to do it decades ago, does not guarantee success today,” he added.