Russia’s Luna-25 Moon lander.
Credit: RSC Energia/Roscosmos


Russia is readying its return to the Moon – the launch of the robotic Luna-25.

“For the first time in 45 years, we are to resume exploration of the Moon. In October, the first descent module will be launched from the spaceport Vostochny, Roscosmos corporation CEO Dmitry Rogozin told Russian President Vladimir Putin last Saturday during a briefing on the corporation’s performance in 2020.

Roscosmos corporation CEO Dmitry Rogozin, discusses future space exploration plans with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Credit: Roscosmos

“More automatic lunar probes will follow. Lastly, a manned program will begin,” Rogozin told Putin.

Luna-25 testing

Acoustic tests of the automatic station Luna-25 were recently conducted at the Scientific and Production Association named after S.A. Lavochkin (part of Roskosmos). Lavochkin is the developer of the lunar-bound spacecraft.

Lunar hardware undergoes testing.
Credit: RSC Energia/Roscosmos

Within the acoustic chamber, the probe was exposed to sound waves in a wide frequency range that mimics forces that will act on the spacecraft during its boost phase from Earth.

After a series of tests, NPO Lavochkin engineers carried out a complete visual inspection of the interplanetary vehicle. Luna-25 has successfully overcome these loads, according to Lavochkin.

A Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) topographic map of the southern sub-polar region of the Moon showing the location of Boguslawsky crater [from Ivanov et al., 2015]via NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) website at Arizona State University.

South pole landing

The Luna-25 spacecraft is part of the Luna-Glob project of NPO Lavochkin. The craft is a small demonstration landing station for testing basic soft landing technologies in the circumpolar region and conducting contact studies of the Moon’s south pole.

Luna-25 spacecraft is to be Soyuz-boosted moonward in October 2021. It will reportedly soft land near the lunar south pole at the Boguslavsky crater.

A portion of a new geologic map of the interior of Boguslawsky crater, proposed site of the next Russian mission to the lunar surface [Ivanov et al., 2015] via NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) website at Arizona State University.


Russia is rebuilding a multi-pronged return-to-the-Moon program, one that kick-starts a 21st century round of outreach to Earth’s extraterrestrial neighbor.

There’s a lot riding on success of this Russian rekindling of lunar exploration. For more information, go to my Scientific American story on Russia’s re-launch into exploring the Moon.

“Luna-25 Lander Renews Russian Moon Rush – The former front-runner in the lunar space race aims to rekindle its exploration after nearly half a century.”

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