MOSCOW, August 16 (Reuters) – Russia’s lunar spacecraft successfully reached the moon’s orbit on Wednesday, marking a significant stride in the nation’s aspiration to become the inaugural presence at the moon’s southern pole, a locale brimming with potential frozen water reservoirs.
Roskosmos, Russia’s space agency, confirmed that the Luna-25 spacecraft accomplished its orbital insertion at 11:57 a.m. (0857 GMT).
In the days to come, Luna-25 will gracefully navigate the lunar sphere, our planet’s sole natural satellite. Following this initial phase, the spacecraft will embark on a calculated trajectory adjustment, leading to a gentle touchdown on the moon’s southern pole. This monumental event is anticipated to unfold on August 21.
Notably, this month, India’s Chandrayaan-3 embarked on a similar celestial journey, entering lunar orbit en route to its planned landing on the moon’s southern extremity.
Sporting dimensions reminiscent of a compact automobile, the Luna-25 spacecraft bears the ambitious mission of a year-long sojourn on the southern pole. This region has garnered considerable scientific interest due to the recent discovery of frozen water traces within lunar craters.
The revelation of lunar water holds transformative implications for prominent players in the space arena, potentially paving the way for extended human stays on the lunar terrain and facilitating the strategic extraction of invaluable lunar resources.
Anatoly Zak, a luminary in the realm of space exploration, underscores the gravity of this achievement for Russia. He notes that since Luna-24—the Soviet Union’s lunar mission in 1976—no Russian spacecraft has graced lunar orbit. Zak highlights the pivotal role of entering lunar orbit, asserting that it is an indispensable cornerstone for the success of this mission.
As Zak elucidates in a conversation with Reuters, “Some are dubbing this the second lunar race, underscoring the significance of Russia’s endeavor to rekindle this program. Luna-25 transcends being a mere mission—it embodies a far-reaching Russian strategy spanning the next decade.