Credit: NPO Lavochkin

Russia’s reactivation of lunar exploration via its robotic Luna-25 lander has slipped to 2023.

The postponement was announced to Russia’s TASS news agency by the General Director of Roscosmos Yuri Borisov on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum. “Unfortunately, yes,” he said, when asked if the mission had been pushed back to next year, TASS reports.

Lunar hardware undergoes testing.
Credit: RSC Energia/Roscosmos

Reportedly, a Luna-25 speed and distance sensor required for a safe and soft landing  underperformed during testing, leading to the slip from this September into 2023. It was made by the Vega Concern, a member of Rostec’s Ruselectronics holding company, owned by the Rostech State Corporation.

Topographic map of the southern sub-polar region of the Moon showing the location of Boguslawsky crater.
Credit: Ivanov et al., 2015 via Arizona State University/LROC


South pole landing

Luna-25 is intended to become the first domestic apparatus in modern Russia to head for the Moon. The probe is targeted for a region of the south pole of the Moon, touching down near the Boguslavsky crater.

A “reserve area” for the landing craft is southwest of the Manzini crater.

Factory floor integration of science instruments on Russia’s Luna-25 Moon lander.
Credit: Roscosmos

The Russian robotic Moon lander was built and has been undergoing testing by NPO. S. A. Lavochkin. This spacecraft has repeatedly slipped, from last year to May to August, then September 2022…and now 2023.

Soil sampling duties

Luna-25 is to study the upper surface layer in the region of the south pole of the Moon, the lunar exosphere and develop landing and soil sampling technologies. The declared active life of the probe on the surface of the Moon is at least one Earth year.

Russia’s Luna-25 will test lunar sampling skills.
Credit: NPO Lavochkin/IKI/Roscosmos

This Russian Moon mission continues the series of the former Soviet Union’s lunar exploration activities that ended back in 1976. Luna-24 successfully delivered about 170 grams of lunar soil to Earth.

The Luna-25 mission is to be followed by the Luna-26 orbiter and a Luna-27 landing vehicle, after which it is planned to start deploying a full-fledged scientific station on the Moon in collaboration with China.

Artist’s view of China/Russia International Lunar Research Station to be completed by 2035. Credit: CNSA/Roscosmos

Earlier, prior to Russia’s intrusion into the Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) was to provide the European Pilot-D camera built specifically for precisely landing Luna-25 on the Moon. Due to the conflict, ESA cancelled the camera cooperation, among a number of other collaborative space projects.

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