The Russian automatic interplanetary station Luna-25 lost its orbit and collided with the surface of the Moon on Sunday, August 20, Russian Space Agency Rosсosmos said.
According to Roscosmos, on August 19 at 14:10 Moscow time, the Luna-25 was supposed to form its pre-landing elliptical orbit. During the manoeuvre, an emergency situation occurred on board the station that caused the operation to fail.
After the failed manoeuvre, the contact with the automatic interplanetary station was lost at about 14:57 Moscow time. Specialists attempted to find the Luna-25 and establish a contact with it on August 19 and 20, although to no avail.
A special interdepartmental commission will look into the circumstances that caused the incident.
During the last manoeuvre, Luna's engine did not shut down normally and was running for 127 seconds instead of the prescribed 84. For this reason the spacecraft went off its orbit and crashed onto he surface of the Moon, Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov said.
The Luna-25 entered an open trajectory of its orbit and crashed on the lunar surface at a speed of 1.7 kilometres per second.
The Soviet Union launched an automatic interplanetary station to the Moon about 50 years ago.
The successful implementation of the Luna-25 program would have confirmed Russia's prestigious status of a space power capable of launching guided spacecraft into deep space.
The name of Russia's first mission to the Moon symbolised continuity of the Soviet lunar programme.
USSR's Luna-24 lunar mission took place in August 1976. The mission was a success — the spacecraft delivered samples of lunar soil to Earth.
One of the main tasks of the first Russian mission was to practice the technique of soft landing on the surface of another celestial body.
The descent vehicle of the station was supposed to land on the Moon in the area of the Boguslavsky crater near the south pole and study the properties and composition of the lunar soil. It is believed that the polar area of the Moon near the Boguslavsky crater is rich with water ice deposits.
The Luna-25 station weighed 1,605 kilograms, of which 1,000 kilograms accounted for fuel and 20 kilograms — for scientific equipment.
Russia plans to launch two more lunar missions this decade — the orbital Luna-26 and the landing Luna-27. Afterwards, Russian specialists plan to send the Luna-28 station to the Earth's satellite to deliver samples of lunar soil to Earth.
Before the failure of the Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27 missions were scheduled for 2027-2028.
China, the USA and India also conduct their lunar programmes. India is going to land on the lunar surface in a few days. In case of success, India will become the fourth nation after the USSR, the USA and China that managed to perform soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
It is worthy of note that the orbit of the Russian automatic interplanetary station Luna-25 did not envisage a possibility to take photographs of US Apollo landers on the surface of the Earth's satellite. The programme did not have such a task at all, Nathan Eismont, an expert at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences said.
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