Chandrayaan-3 remains the sole contender in the race to land on the Moon

Chandrayaan-3 will make its landing on the lunar surface at 18:04 hours on August 23

INDIA-SPACE/ A view of the moon as viewed by the Chandrayaan-3 lander during Lunar Orbit Insertion | ISRO/via Reuters

Russia's space ambitions took a blow as Luna-25, the country's first lunar mission in almost fifty years, experienced a crash landing on the Moon. The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos reported that the spacecraft had entered an uncontrolled orbit and ultimately failed to achieve its objective of making a soft landing on the lunar south pole. The crash occurred just two days before the scheduled landing date of August 21.

"The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon, the Russian space agency said in a statement.

Luna-25's mission was significant as it aimed to become the first-ever spacecraft to touch down on the challenging terrain of the lunar south pole. This region holds great scientific interest due to its unique characteristics and potential for important discoveries. However, with Luna-25's failure, India's Chandrayaan-3 mission's lander module now remains as the sole contender in the race to successfully land on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-3, launched by India on July 14, has set its sights on reaching the lunar south pole and is now the frontrunner in this endeavor. As the only spacecraft left in the race, Chandrayaan-3's mission gains even greater significance and attention.

Russia Space Crash The moon lander Luna-25 automatic station is seen inside a plant shop at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russia | Roscosmos via AP

On August 19, the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos provided an impulse to propel the Luna-25 spacecraft into an elliptical pre-landing orbit. Unfortunately, at approximately 11:57 GMT, communication with Luna-25 was lost, dealing a setback to Moscow's space ambitions.

The primary objective of the Luna-25 mission was to achieve a soft landing on the lunar south pole, a region known for its challenging terrain. This would have marked a significant milestone, as no spacecraft has successfully landed in this area before. India's Chandrayaan-3 mission, launched on July 14, had similar ambitions of being the first to reach the lunar south pole.

On August 11, Luna-25, Russia's first lunar mission in 47 years, was launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's Far East. This mission aimed to enter lunar orbit on August 16 and land on the Moon's south pole on August 21. Luna-25 was a part of Russia's lunar program, which focused on exploring and utilizing the Moon and its orbit to establish a fully automated lunar base.

The primary objectives of Luna-25 were to study the Moon's internal structure, investigate natural resources such as water, and analyze the impact of cosmic rays and electromagnetic radiation on the lunar surface. The mission was expected to provide valuable insights into lunar exploration and contribute to future space endeavors.

However, according to reports from state-run Sputnik and Tass news agencies, Luna-25 encountered a deviation in its planned trajectory, causing it to enter an off-design orbit and ultimately collide with the lunar surface. The exact reasons for this deviation are currently under investigation by a specially formed commission.

The loss of Luna-25 is a setback for Russia's lunar program, but it highlights the challenges and complexities associated with space exploration. Despite this setback, the pursuit of lunar exploration and the establishment of a lunar base remain important goals for space agencies around the world.

The spacecraft successfully entered the moon's orbit on Wednesday, marking a significant milestone in space exploration. It was anticipated to create history by achieving a soft landing on the lunar surface either on Monday or Tuesday, just a few days before India's Chandrayaan-3 mission's lander module touchdown.

In exciting news, the Indian space agency announced on Sunday that it has effectively reduced the orbit of the Chandrayaan-3 mission's lander module. The module is now scheduled to touch down on the moon's surface at 1804 hours on August 23. Prior to the planned soft landing, the lander module will undergo internal checks to ensure everything is in order.

The lander module, known as the LM, consists of the lander named Vikram and the rover named Pragyan. It is expected to make its landing on the lunar surface at 18:04 hours on August 23, as stated by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).

PTI08_20_2023_000015B Illustration showing ISRO's 'Chandrayaan-3' after the orbit of Landing Module (LM) was successfully reduced to 25 km x 134 km | PTI

The Chandrayaan-3 mission holds great significance for India's space exploration efforts. It serves as a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and aims to showcase the end-to-end capability of safe landing and roving on the moon's surface.

The primary objectives of the Chandrayaan-3 mission are to achieve a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, demonstrate the rover's mobility on the moon, and conduct in-situ scientific experiments. This mission represents India's continued commitment to advancing space exploration and scientific research.