The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) launched the Soyuz 2.1v rocket carrying the Luna-25 spacecraft into space yesterday from the Vostochniy spaceport, about 5,500 kilometers east of Moscow.
Luna-25, which entered the flight orbit after a successful launch, is planned to land on the south pole of the Moon on August 21 and begin its mission that will last for about a year.
Luna-25, whose main mission is to find a water source on the Moon, will also examine the effects of space rays and electromagnetic emissions on the lunar surface.
In a statement after the launch, Roscosmos President Yuriy Borisov emphasized that Luna-25 was sent to the Moon for peaceful purposes, and said that they plan to send spacecraft to the Moon in 2027, 2028 and 2030.
Pointing out that they will also carry out joint projects on the Moon with China, Borisov said, “We will start the next phase, namely a manned mission and the construction of a Moon base, with our colleagues from China.”
Luna-25’s main mission is to explore a water source
Luna-25, the first spacecraft sent by Russia to the Moon since 1976, consists of two main parts, including the landing platform and various instruments.
Luna-25 includes various scientific equipment weighing about 31 kilograms for the study of space beams and electromagnetic emissions, as well as devices that can dig the soil and take samples.
The first proven water discovery on the Moon was made possible by data from Chandrayaan-1, the first Indian research satellite to orbit the Moon in 2008 by the Indian Space Agency.
Luna-25 will also try to find a water source at the south pole of the Moon that contains hydrogen and oxygen, which are both important for human life and can be used as rocket fuel.
Competition on the Moon is accelerating
In addition to Russia, the USA, China and India have also accelerated their work on exploration and mining on the Moon in recent years.
The US and China plan to send rover and probe to the Moon in 2026.
Finally, in the statement made by the Indian Space Research Center on August 5, it was reported that the Chandrayaan-3 reconnaissance vehicle, which the Moon sent to space on July 14 to study in the south polar region, successfully placed in orbit.
If Chandrayaan-3 is successful, India will conduct its third lunar reconnaissance mission, making it the 4th country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, after the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.
Experts emphasize that the water in the south pole of the Moon can be used to extract fuel for future lunar missions or rockets to Mars, and therefore attracts the attention of many countries.
Russian first moon adventure
Russia’s adventure of sending a spacecraft to the Moon first began during the space race between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the USA in the second half of the 20th century, as part of the Cold War.
Being ahead of the Americans, the Russians sent humans into space for the first time as part of the Soviet Union’s Vostok manned space flight program.
On April 12, 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went into space. Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Vostok spacecraft made a full circle in Earth orbit. Thus began the space age of human history.
Meanwhile, the USA developed the Apollo program to land humans on the Moon, while the USSR developed the “Soviet Lunar Program”.
After the USSR also sent the first female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova into space in 1963, the USA stepped up its Moon program. Finally, the USA made the first manned space flight to the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.
The Soviet Union also continued the Moon program.
USSR’s first lunar experiment was with Luna-1
The Soviet Union made its first lunar test with Luna-1. Launched from the Baikonur base on January 2, 1959, the spacecraft reached the Moon for the first time in history and entered heliocentric orbit. However, due to a malfunction, the vehicle missed the Moon.
The Luna-2 spacecraft, which was launched on September 12 the same year, became the “first man-made object to land on the surface of the Moon” in history.
Also sent on October 4 that same year, Luna-3 obtained images of the “far side of the Moon” in its hemisphere, which is always facing away from Earth due to the simultaneous rotation of the Moon’s orbit, for the first time three days after launch.
The Luna-10 spacecraft, launched by the Soviet Union on March 31, 1966, is also the “first artificial satellite of the Moon”.
The vehicle was put into a stable orbit to explore the Moon’s surroundings and the chemical composition of the visible and opposite surface. Luna-10 became “the first man-made object to orbit the Moon by making its first orbit”.
Thanks to the work of the Moon’s artificial satellite, scientists learned the general chemical composition and types of rocks on the Moon’s surface.
Zond-5, the first spacecraft to go to the Moon and return to Earth
The Zond-5 spacecraft was launched on September 15, 1968. The first spacecraft to orbit the Moon and return to Earth safely, made history for the first time with carrying living beings on its deck on its way to the Moon.
The spacecraft entered the atmosphere on September 21 and landed in the Indian Ocean.
The first launch attempt for the Luna-17 on February 19, 1969 failed, and the rocket carrying the vehicle exploded 52 seconds into its flight. The second attempt was made on November 10, 1970 and landed on the Moon’s surface. Meanwhile, on July 16, 1969, the United States achieved the “first human landing on the Moon”.
Luna-17 had the world’s first automated self-propelled lab to be controlled.
USSR’s last Moon mission accomplished with Luna-24
The Russians launched their previous lunar spacecraft on August 9, 1976. After the Luna-24 spacecraft landed on the surface of the Moon, it obtained soil by drilling from a depth of 2 meters.
For the first time, the vehicle returned to Earth with 170 grams of soil with traces of water. However, scientists could not confirm that this water is Moon water.
The Luna-24 was the USSR’s last lunar mission.