Russia’s Lunar Return: Luna-25 Mission Aims to Revive Space Prestige

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Russia is embarking on its first lunar surface mission in nearly half a century, aiming to reassert its space prowess despite recent domestic military and diplomatic challenges related to the Ukraine conflict. The upcoming Luna-25 launch marks Moscow’s reentry into lunar exploration since its last mission in 1976, when the former Soviet Union’s once-pioneering space program began to wane due to financial constraints and corruption.

Scheduled for 2:11 am Moscow time on Friday (2311 GMT Thursday), the Luna-25 launch will take place from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East. The mission’s anticipated landing near the Moon’s south pole is expected around August 21, according to a source at Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

Roscosmos has stated that the spacecraft will function for approximately a year and will be tasked with analyzing soil samples, conducting extensive scientific research on lunar surface materials and the atmosphere.

Vitaly Yegorov, an independent space analyst, has emphasized the significance of the Luna-25 mission as a crucial test for Russia’s space capabilities, particularly its ability to successfully land on the Moon’s surface.

In line with its geopolitical priorities, President Vladimir Putin seeks to bolster cooperation with China while gradually reducing partnerships with Western nations. Moscow has announced its intentions to withdraw from collaboration with the United States on the International Space Station (ISS) by 2028 and is looking to engage in an alternative project led by Beijing.

Despite the European Space Agency’s (ESA) decision not to cooperate with Russia on the Luna-25 launch and subsequent missions due to Ukraine-related tensions, Moscow remains determined to proceed. Putin’s commitment to the country’s lunar program highlights his determination to pursue space exploration, mirroring the resilience shown during the Soviet Union’s achievements, despite external challenges.

The Luna-25 mission carries a level of risk due to its unique landing site at the Moon’s south pole, an area seldom explored. Yuri Borisov, head of Roscosmos, acknowledged the high-risk nature of the mission and pointed out the unprecedented nature of landing in this specific location. Despite the challenges, Russia’s space agency estimates the mission’s success likelihood at around 70%.

The rocket boosters are predicted to fall near the village of Shakhtinsky, leading to an evacuation of the settlement. The outcome of the mission is pivotal for Russia’s modern space endeavors, aiming to restore its reputation as a space power while grappling with limitations imposed by outdated technology, corruption, and global competition.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Bangkok Post

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