Russia launches ‘Luna-25’ mission to race to Moon’s South Pole

Russia launched a spacecraft to the moon on Friday – its first attempt since 1976, when the Soviet Union and the United States were in deep competition for space supremacy during the Cold War.

Moscow is now hoping to make history, in the race to become the first country to make a soft landing on the moon’s icy south pole.

The spacecraft, known as Luna-25, lifted off southeast of the country at 2:11 a.m. local time, according to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

Roscosmos said it will take more than five days for the spacecraft to get close to the moon. The agency said it will orbit for several days before attempting a soft landing on the lunar surface north of Bogoslavsky Crater on August 21.

The schedule puts Russia in a race Against IndiaChandrayaan-3 lunar lander – launched on a similar mission last month and is aiming for a soft landing by August 23. “We hope to be the first,” said Roscosmos President Yuri Borisov It is said At the launch event.

The move puts Moscow in the rare and coveted geopolitical space of advanced lunar exploration as it aims to join the United States and China in this display of global power. (Attempts by Japan and Israel in recent years have failed.)

The moonshot, which Russia has been planning for decades, comes at a time when the Kremlin faces international sanctions and a massive standing ovation among much of the Western world for invading neighboring Ukraine. Russia is an important partner International Space Station, a large spaceship in orbit around Earth, serves as home to a crew of astronauts from many nations. However, its space sector suffers from restrictions and limitations on the use of Western technology, funding and research ties.

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“Exploration of the Moon is not the goal,” noted Russian space explorer and blogger Vitaly Egorov. said About the launch Associated Press. “The target is a political rivalry between two superpowers — China and the United States — and several countries that want to claim the title of space superpower.”

The moon beckons once again, and this time NASA wants to stay

In 1957, Russia became the first country to launch a satellite Sputnik 1, setting up a space race with the United States. By 1961, the Soviet Union had sent the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin, making an orbit around the Earth in Vostok 1. But as geopolitical tensions rose on Earth, the United States became the first country to land a man on the moon in 1969 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It was hailed as a decisive victory in the space race between the two superpowers. It was a manifestation of the Cold War, and the landings were seen on television 723 million People worldwide.

Roscosmos Director General Borisov hailed Friday’s launch as a “new page” for Russian space exploration. “All the results of the research will be transferred to Earth,” he said on state television. “We are interested in the presence of water, as well as many experiments related to the study of soil, soil.” He noted that the mission faces some “obstacles” along the way.

The Luna-25 lander consists of a quadrupedal platform containing the landing rockets and propellant tanks and an upper compartment containing solar panels, communications equipment, onboard computers and most scientific equipment. According to to NASA.

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Its dry mass is about 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) — roughly the same as a car trailer — and the 1.6-meter-long (5-foot-3-inch) lunar robotic arm is equipped with a scoop to remove and collect rocks, the South Pole’s “research mix” of soil and dust. is intended. If successful, the lander is expected to operate on the lunar surface for a year, Roscosmos said.

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On Friday, Roscosmos said in a Telegram post, “The rocket worked normally, the upper stage has separated from the third stage and is now placing the automatic station on a flight path to the Moon!”

It is was added The release came after “long preparations” and “painful anticipation”.

Indian Space Research Organisation Tweeted, hailed the successful Luna-25 launch and “congratulated” Roscosmos overnight. “It’s wonderful to have another rendezvous point in our space journey,” it said.

This year, China also announced plans to land astronauts on the moon before 2030, setting up a new sphere of competition with the United States. Russia’s space chief Borissov said on Friday the country plans three lunar launches between 2027 and 2030.

“After that, we and our colleagues from China will move on to the next step – the possibility of manned flights to the moon and the creation of a lunar base,” he added.

China is sending three men into space, hoping to land astronauts on the moon by 2030

NASA has talked about its own ambitions to build a permanent presence centered on the moon’s south pole. Last month, it awarded contracts to companies to develop technologies that would allow humans to live longer on the moon.

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But Americans may not be so keen. In July, a Pew Research poll Only 12 percent of U.S. adults think returning astronauts to the moon should be a top priority for NASA. Instead, many said the space agency should focus on monitoring climate change and tracking asteroids that could hit Earth.

Many nations are interested in searching for frozen water, especially in the permanently shadowed craters at the moon’s south pole. Water is not only important for sustaining life, but when broken down into its components hydrogen and oxygen, it can be used to breathe air and make components for rocket fuel.

Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

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