•      Fri Sep 29 2023

Russia’s Luna-25 probe to reach Moon orbit

Earth as seen by Luna-25 from space. (Photo: IKI RAS)

MOSCOW, Aug 16 (AFP) – Moscow’s Luna-25 lander is due to reach the Moon’s orbit Wednesday, in the first such Russian mission in almost 50 years, according to the schedule of space agency Roscosmos.

With the lunar launch, Moscow’s first since 1976, Russia is seeking to restart and rebuild on the Soviet Union’s pioneering space programme.

The lander is set to revolve 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the Moon’s surface, before a planned landing Monday north of the Boguslawsky crater on the lunar south pole.

Cameras installed on the lander have already taken distant shots of the Earth and Moon from space, Roscosmos said. The lander, weighing around 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds), was carried into space by a Soyuz rocket launched Friday from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

It is due to stay on the Moon for a year, where it is tasked with collecting samples and analysing soil.

The mission comes as the future of Russia’s long-running cooperation with the West in space looks in doubt, as Moscow presses ahead with its offensive in Ukraine.

Russia said it would go ahead with its own lunar plans, despite the European Space Agency (ESA) announcing it would not cooperate with Moscow on future missions over its actions in Ukraine.