Russia’s first space mission since 1976 has ended in the most Russian way imaginable by blowing a crater several dozen meters deep in the moon’s surface. Problems with the Luna 25 unmanned moon lander on a year-long mission to the moon’s south pole were first noticed yesterday (see BREAKING. Russia’s Luna 25 Moon Lander Loses Contact With Ground Control) when a laconic posting on the Telegram channel of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said:
Today, in accordance with the Luna-25 flight program, at 14:10 an impulse was issued for the station to move to a pre-landing orbit.
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.
Currently, the specialists of the management group are analyzing the situation.
Early this morning, Eastern Time, Roscosmos informed the Russian state news agency TASS, “The Luna-25 spacecraft switched to an off-design orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon.”
More detail came from RT’s Telegram channel (translated).
The Russian moon landing, scheduled for August 21, was choreographed to coincide with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit scheduled to start on August 22. This BRICS summit was the one Vladimir Putin had to avoid to save South Africa the embarrassment of having to serve him with an International Criminal Court arrest warrant (see Vladimir Putin Cancels Trip to BRICS Summit Because of ICC Arrest Warrant ). It was also thought but never established that Luna 25’s landing date was rushed to let it beat the scheduled touchdown of India’s Chandrayaan-3 on August 23.
In my view, the mission was much less a scientific one than a political one. The target was the lunar south pole, a previously unexplored area. The mission was scaled back from including a lunar rover because of Western sanctions after Putin’s War in Ukraine began. It is speculated that it went ahead to prove to the world that sanctions would not affect Russia’s ability to lead the world. The landing coinciding with BRICS would also be a political thumb in the eye of the West over the ICC kerfuffle, and it would bolster Russia’s image in that group, particularly by one-upping India by two days. This is not just an egg in the face. This is Putin being held down and letting the henhouse drop their product on him.
I still expect to see the Russians taking a page of Irish history and using the Red Hand of the O’Neills rule to claim it arrived first at the south pole area of the moon.