In a race with India to the moon’s south pole, Russia is set to launch its first lunar landing spacecraft in 47 years on August 11. The launch will happen four weeks after Indian space agency ISRO sent up its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, due to touchdown at the pole on August 23.
The Luna-25 spacecraft would take five days to fly to the celestial body and spend another five to seven days in lunar orbit before descending, Russian space agency Roscosmos said. The timetable implies the spacecraft could match or even narrowly beat its Indian rival in the race.
While rough terrain makes landing on the south pole relatively difficult, scientists believe the region could hold significant quantities of ice which could later be used to extract oxygen and fuel to support a future human population there.
Despite Similar Landing Schedules …
The two spacecrafts would not interfere with each other’s missions or collide because they have different landing areas planned, Roscosmos stressed. While Chandrayaan-3 is due to run experiments on the moon for a couple of weeks, Luna-25 will work for a year.
The Russian space mission will take rock samples from a depth of up to 15 cm to test for the presence of frozen water. The launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome has been delayed for nearly two years as it was originally planned for October 2021.
At 7:30 am on August 11, residents of a village in the country’s far east will be evacuated from their homes, owing to a “one in a million” possibility of one of the rocket stages that launches Luna-25 falling to the earth there, a local official mentioned.