Russia’s lunar lander faces an “emergency situation” as it nears the moon’s surface. Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, revealed that the Luna 25 spacecraft encountered issues while attempting a pre-landing orbit. A Telegram post by Roscosmos stated that the automatic station experienced a crisis, preventing the intended maneuver. The agency is currently assessing the situation. Whether this hiccup will hinder the scheduled moon landing remains uncertain.
The lunar lander was set to touch down near the moon’s south pole by Monday. Luna 25’s mission marked Russia’s return to lunar exploration after the era of the Soviet Union. The last lunar lander, Luna 24, landed in 1976. Luna 25 launched from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome on August 10, swiftly propelling it towards the moon. Its trajectory allowed it to overtake India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, which launched in mid-July.
Despite media portrayals of a race between India and Russia to the lunar south pole, astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell clarified that both projects were in the works for over a decade. Landing safely on the moon would be a monumental achievement for Russia’s space program. Luna 25 also serves as a testing ground for future Roscosmos lunar exploration missions, with several upcoming Luna missions employing the same spacecraft design.
Russia aims to demonstrate the capability of its civil space program, which has faced long-standing issues, in high-stakes missions. Victoria Samson, Washington office director for the Secure World Foundation, noted past problems with quality control, corruption, and funding in Russia’s space endeavors. Luna 25’s journey could redefine Russia’s place in space exploration.For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com