Russian spacecraft Luna-25 crashed into the Moon because its engines couldn’t stop, space agency chief admits as he’s dragged onto state TV to explain Putin’s latest failure
The Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the Moon after its engines failed to shut down correctly, the head of Russia’s space agency has said. Roscosmos director general Yury Borisov (pictured left) was dragged onto state TV yesterday to explain Vladimir Putin’s latest failure and blamed the country’s decades-long pause in lunar exploration for the mishap.
The pilotless Luna-25 was scheduled to land on Monday in a bid to become the first spacecraft to touch down on the south pole of the Moon, an area where scientists believe important reserves of frozen water and precious elements may exist. But Mr Borisov said the spacecraft’s engines were turned on over the weekend to put Luna-25 into a ‘pre-landing orbit’ but did not shut down properly, plunging the lander onto the moon. The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three countries have managed successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
‘Instead of the planned 84 seconds, it worked for 127 seconds. This was the main reason for the emergency,’ Mr Borisov told Russian state news channel Russia 24. He revealed that the Roscosmos had contact with the spacecraft until 2.57pm local time on Saturday, when communication was lost and ‘the device passed into an open lunar orbit and crashed into the surface of the Moon. The negative experience of interrupting the lunar program for almost 50 years is the main reason for the failures,’ Mr Borisov said, adding ‘it would be the worst decision ever’ for Russia to end the program now.
Luna-25 launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on August 10. The spaceport is a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and key to his efforts to make Russia a space superpower. Before the launch, Roscosmos said it wanted to show Russia ‘is a state capable of delivering a payload to the moon,’ and ‘ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to the moon’s surface.’ Following the crash, the Russian space agency said the Moon mission was about ensuring long-term ‘defence capability’ as well as ‘technological sovereignty.’ ‘The race to develop the Moon’s natural resources has begun,’ Mr Borisov said. ‘In the future, the Moon will become an ideal platform for the exploration of deep space.’
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