Luna 25 Moon lander. Credit: Roscosmos

Progress is being reported on readying Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft.

Last month, flight units of Russian scientific instruments were delivered from the Space Research Institute to NPO Lavochkin – part of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. Russian space industry specialists have started installing them on the Luna-25 spacecraft.

The Russian lunar landing vehicle includes nine instruments: eight Russian and one developed by the European Space Agency.

ESA’s contribution to Luna 25 includes PILOT-D, a demonstrator terrain relative navigation system.

Credit: ESA

South pole exploration

The Russian instruments are meant to research the composition, structure and physico-mechanical properties of lunar polar regolith, dust and plasma exosphere around the Moon’s south pole. To date, no spacecraft have been to this region, eyed by many nations as a site for future Moon bases.

Luna-25 is expected to launch in October 2021.

The project is being implemented at the request of the Russian Academy of Sciences — part of the Federal Space Program of 2016-2025 — and is financed by Roscosmos.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter used its powerful LROC system to image Luna 24 sitting near the edge of a large crater.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Return to flight

Luna-25 is the opening moonshot of a reactivated Russian lunar program that includes an orbiter and lobbing lunar materials back to Earth.

ESA has been developing the Package for Resource Observation and in-Situ Prospecting for Exploration, Commercial exploitation and Transportation (PROSPECT) – a lunar drilling and sample analysis package to be installed on Russia’s Luna 27 mission.

The last of the Luna series of spacecraft was the mission of the Luna 24 probe in 1976. It was the third Soviet mission to retrieve and rocket back to Earth lunar surface samples. The first two were returned by Luna 16 in 1970 and Luna 20 in 1972.

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