47 Years Later, Russia Heads Back to the Moon

India hopes to land around the same time in search for water ice
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
Updated Aug 11, 2023 12:00 AM CDT
47 Years Later, Russia to Launch Another Moon Rocket
In this photo released by the Indian Space Research Organization, the Chandrayaan-3 awaits launch last month in Sriharikota, India.   (Indian Space Research Organisation via AP)
UPDATE Aug 11, 2023 12:00 AM CDT

Russia's first moon mission in almost five decades started off with what the AP calls a "flawless" launch Friday of a rocket carrying a lunar landing craft. The launch from Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport in the country's Far East is Russia's first since it was part of the Soviet Union in 1976. The race is now on to see whether Russia or India is first to arrive at the moon's south pole. "Study of the moon is not the goal," says Vitaly Egorov, a popular Russian space analyst. "The goal is political competition between two superpowers—China and the USA—and a number of other countries which also want to claim the title of space superpower."

Aug 10, 2023 4:35 PM CDT

Russia hasn't sent a rocket to the moon in 47 years, but its space agency suddenly is all rush-rush. Luna 25 is scheduled for liftoff Friday morning, not exactly close on the heels of the Soviet Union's 1976 Luna 24 mission, in an attempt to land at the moon's south pole—which would be a first in Earth-launched space travel, Time reports. The spacecraft will be competing with the Chandrayaan 3 lunar rover already dispatched by India. That craft has a four-week head start, but the Russian ship's flight plan is a straight shot, while India's is making progressively wider orbits of Earth until it's close to its destination. The two countries have picked the same arrival date: Aug. 23.

That part of the moon is a possibility for human exploration, partly because water ice is thought to be in permanently shadowed craters. Luna 25 is scheduled to scoop samples, then bring them into the craft where they can be analyzed. Both space agencies said they aren't concerned about having the same landing date causing problems. "There is no danger that they interfere with each other or collide," Russia's agency, Roscosmos, said in a statement. "There is enough space for everyone on the moon." Roscosmos said it will stream its launch on YouTube, per CNN, at 7:10pm EDT Thursday. (More moon landings stories.)

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