July 14, 2024

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Live video: Watch Russia launch the Luna-25 Moon Mission

Live video: Watch Russia launch the Luna-25 Moon Mission

Russia will return to the moon, too.

For the first time since the race for the moon with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, Russia has launched a medium-sized robotic lander, Luna-25, that will head for the moon’s south polar region. The mission has been in development for years before Russia invaded Ukraine, but it’s also happening as President Vladimir Putin looks to space as a way to signal Russia’s return to superpower status.

The spacecraft lifted off on time from Vostochny, a cosmodrome in far eastern Russia. It was 9:10 a.m. on Friday at launch time in the spaceport, but it was 2:10 a.m. in Moscow. A live video feed showed an overcast sky at the launch site, but it did not interfere with the mission.

While the rocket has passed the early stages of its journey and successfully reached space, it will be more than an hour before the spacecraft completes in-orbit maneuvers that send it on a trajectory toward the moon. Russian television network RT continues Coverage of the launch streamas does Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, on its site YouTube channel. You can watch the broadcast in Russian embedded in the video player above.

After the successful NASA Apollo moon landings from 1969 through 1972, the global space agencies largely lost interest in the Moon. Russia completed several robotic landings after the Apollo program ended, ending with the Luna-24 mission in 1976.

In the decades that followed, attention turned to destinations farther out in the solar system. But the discovery of water ice in shadowed craters in the moon’s polar regions sparked interest.

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Russia has been trying to revive its lunar program for the past quarter-century, and Russian officials have talked about sending Russian cosmonauts there as well.

said Anatoly Zak, who publishes RussianSpaceWeb.com, which closely tracks Russian space activities.

However, it’s a mini version “that takes advantage of some recent technological advancements,” Zak said. “When they decided to call it Luna-25, it was kind of fair, because it’s actually a continuation of the Soviet legacy.”

However, Russia’s space program has been hampered by limited funding, economic sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine and technological limitations, especially for electronics. Some Russians have even expressed doubts about the prospects for Russia’s lunar exploration programme.

“The Russian government is looking for any ‘victories’ to show how much it doesn’t care about sanctions,” said Denis Shiryaev, a Russian blogger who writes about technology. He added, “It’s more likely that the news broke for that, not for the actual launch.”

Luna-25 will be launched atop a Soyuz rocket that will put it into Earth orbit. The rocket’s upper stage will then launch, propelling the lander on a roughly five-day journey to the moon.

Once the Luna-25 lander reaches the moon, it will enter a circular orbit 60 miles above the surface. The probe will spend about seven days propelling itself into an elliptical orbit dropping within tens of miles from the surface. Roscosmos has not announced a planned landing date.

If Luna-25 lands successfully, it will be operational for at least a year. The primary landing target is north of Boguslavsky Crater, located at about 70 degrees south latitude. Planned experiments include soil dredging and soil composition analysis. It can excavate some water ice below the surface.

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Landers from several countries have sent robotic spacecraft to the Moon in recent years. Only China succeeded, taking three for three.

All other landing attempts, including Japan’s Ispace attempt in April, crashed.

Last month, India launched its latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan 3. With an indirect, energy-efficient trajectory, Chandrayaan 3 entered lunar orbit on August 5 and is scheduled to make its landing attempt, at a location in the Antarctic region. On August 23 – about the same time as Luna-25.

Luna-25 is slated to be the first in a series of increasingly ambitious robotic missions headed to the Moon. Luna-26 will be an orbiter, while Luna-27 is a larger, more capable lander.

Russian cooperation with NASA continues on the International Space Station, but Russia has refused to join NASA’s Artemis program aimed at returning astronauts to the moon. Instead, it announced that it was working with China to build a lunar base in the 2030s.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the European Space Agency to end its cooperation with Roscosmos on planetary missions. An experimental European-made navigation camera has been removed from Luna-25. The European Space Agency also ended cooperation on the ExoMars mission; Her Rosalind Franklin rover was supposed to lift off on a Russian rocket and then be transported to the surface of Mars via a Russian landing system.

Anton TroyanovskyAnd Alina Lobzina And Milana Mazeva Contribute to the preparation of reports.