The Luna-25 mission has failed after a Russian spacecraft collided with the moon. On Sunday, August 20, Russian officials reported that the spacecraft had been lost, contrary to the original intention for it to crash on the moon's surface near the south pole.
On Saturday, August 19, the Russian space agency Roscosmos declared through Telegram that a "emergency situation" had happened with the spacecraft, sparking reports of issues with the Luna-25 mission. Prior to a landing attempt that was planned for this coming week, the spacecraft was in orbit around the moon when a glitch occurred during a maneuver to change the spacecraft's orbit. The reason for the issue, which caused the vehicle to spin out of control and smash into the moon's surface, is still a mystery.
The unmanned mission's goal was to set down on the lunar south pole, a location that has never been visited by a spacecraft before. The region is of great scientific interest since it is believed that water ice can be found there in continuously shaded craters. For upcoming crewed lunar missions, such as those NASA is planning in an effort to transport a crew to the moon for periods of weeks rather than days, a supply of water ice would be a crucial resource.
The Indian mission Chandrayaan-3, which just launched and likewise intends to land on the south pole of the moon, and the Russian mission were competing for space. This next week, a landing attempt by the Indian expedition is anticipated. The idea of going to the moon has gained popularity recently, despite the fact that only three countries have ever been there: the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.
Although NASA's Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s successfully placed personnel on the moon, it is still difficult to land even an unmanned spacecraft there. Other recent moon landing efforts that ended in failure include the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, which collided with the moon's surface, and the earlier Indian mission Chandrayaan-2. The two losses happened in 2019. The UAE's Rashid rover was aboard the Japanese Hakuto-R mission in 2022, which failed in its effort to settle on the moon.