Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years smashes into the moon
Russia’s plan for its first moon landing mission in 47 years has failed after the Luna 25 crashed into the lunar surface
READING LEVEL: ORANGE
Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon after it spun into an uncontrolled orbit*, the country’s Roscosmos space agency said Sunday.
The pilotless spacecraft was aiming to be the first ever to land on the south pole of the moon, an area where scientists believe there could be important reserves* of frozen water and precious elements*. It had been expected to land Monday.
However, Roscosmos said it lost contact with the Luna-25 on Saturday after the spacecraft ran into difficulties and reported an “abnormal situation*”.
“The apparatus* moved into an unpredictable* orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon,” read a statement from the agency.
The Luna-25 was in a race with an Indian spacecraft launched on July 14 to be the first to reach the south pole. Both were expected to reach the moon between August 21 and 23.
Vitaly Egorov, a popular Russian space analyst*, said despite the crash the mission had some successes.
“Luna 25 showed important progress. It flew toward the moon, carried out orbit correction, and tested on-board electronics and scientific tools,” he said via video call. “It even managed to collect some small scientific data during the flight and from the lunar orbit*. It also sent photos of the moon. Russian cosmonautics* was not at this level before. But then, an error occurred somehow.”
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three governments have managed successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
The lunar south pole is of particular interest to scientists, who believe the permanently shadowed polar craters* may contain frozen water in the rocks that future explorers could transform into air and rocket fuel.
A previous Indian attempt to land at the south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface.
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.”
Egorov said Roscosmos needs the experience of landing on the moon.
“It will not be able to talk with China on equal terms, because China has already had three successful landings on the moon, while Roscosmos has none,” he said. “Roscosmos will lag starkly behind the Chinese lunar program*.”
- uncontrolled orbit: a path that an object takes in space without being properly controlled or directed
- reserves: supplies or quantities of something that is stored or available for use
- precious elements: valuable substances or materials, often rare and important for various purposes
- abnormal situation: a situation that is not normal or expected, often indicating a problem or difficulty
- apparatus: a device or equipment used for a specific purpose
- unpredictable: something that cannot be predicted or foreseen accurately
- lunar orbit: the path that a spacecraft takes around the moon
- analyst: a person who examines and interprets information or data to draw conclusions
- cosmonautics: the science and technology of space travel
- permanently shadowed polar craters: parts on the moon’s surface that never receive direct sunlight
- payload: the cargo or equipment carried by a spacecraft
- lunar program: a series of planned activities and missions related to the moon
- Why did Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crash into the moon according to the Roscosmos space agency?
- What was the purpose of the Luna-25 spacecraft’s mission before it crashed?
- How did the Luna-25’s mission compare with the Indian spacecraft’s objective regarding the moon’s south pole?
- How did the Luna-25 spacecraft run into difficulties before losing contact with Roscosmos?
- What significance did Vitaly Egorov attribute to the Luna-25 mission despite its crash?
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1. Race to the moon
Is a ‘race to the moon’ a good idea between two rival countries?
What possible implications could this have for both countries in the race?
What were the wins and losses of the Luna-25 Russian spacecraft mission?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Personal and Social, Critical and Creative Thinking
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.”
What do you think this statement means?
What is a "payload" to the moon?
How would this guarantee access to the moon?
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and Creative Thinking
Show you have read and understood the article by writing three sentences using the connectives “because’’, “and”, and “but” (BAB). Your sentences can share different facts or opinions, or the same ones but written about in different ways.