Home » A Failed Lunar Mission Dents Russian Pride and Reflects Deeper Problems With Moscow’s Space Industry
General News News Russia

A Failed Lunar Mission Dents Russian Pride and Reflects Deeper Problems With Moscow’s Space Industry

FILE - In this image made from video released by Roscosmos State Space Corporation, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket with the moon lander Luna-25 automatic station takes off from a launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. The failure of the robotic Luna-25 probe, which crashed onto the surface of the moon over the weekend, reflects the endemic problems that have dogged the Russian space industry since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. (Roscosmos State Space Corporation via AP, File)



An ambitious but failed attempt by Russia to return to the moon after nearly half a century has exposed the massive challenges faced by Moscow’s once-proud space program.

The destruction of the robotic Luna-25 probe, which crashed onto the surface of the moon over the weekend, reflects the endemic problems that have dogged the Russian space industry since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Those include the loss of key technologies in the post-Soviet industrial meltdown, the bruising impact of recent Western sanctions, a huge brain drain and widespread corruption.

Yuri Borisov, the head of the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos, attributed the failure to the lack of expertise due to the long break in lunar research that followed the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

“The priceless experience that our predecessors earned in the 1960-70s was effectively lost,” Borisov said. “The link between generations has been cut.”

While the USSR lost the race to the United States to land humans on the moon, the Soviet lunar program had more than a dozen successful pioneering robotic missions, some of which featured lunar rovers and brought soil samples back to Earth. The proud Soviet space history includes launching the first satellite in space in 1957 and the first human in space in 1961.

Mikhail Marov, a 90-year-old scientist who played a prominent role in planning the earlier lunar missions and worked on the Luna-25 project, was hospitalized after its failure.

“It was very hard. It’s the work of all my life,” Marov said in remarks carried by Russian media. “For me, it was the last chance to see the revival of our lunar program.”

Borisov said the spacecraft’s thruster fired for 127 seconds instead of the planned 84 seconds, causing it to crash, and a government commission will investigate the glitch.

Natan Eismont, a leading researcher with the Moscow-based Institute for Space Research, told the state RIA Novosti agency said that signs of equipment problems had appeared even before the crash, but space officials still gave the go for landing.

Vitaly Egorov, a popular Russian space blogger, noted that Roscosmos may have neglected the warnings in a rush to be the first to land on the lunar south pole ahead of an Indian spacecraft that has been orbiting the moon ahead of a planned landing.

“It looks like things weren’t going according to plan, but they decided not to change the schedule to prevent the Indians from coming first,” he said.

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 major factor exacerbating Russia’s space woes that could have played a role in the Luna-25 failure has been the Western sanctions on Moscow over its war in Ukraine. Those penalties have blocked imports of microchips and other key Western components and restricted scientific exchanges.

While working on the Luna-25 project, Roscosmos partnered with the European Space Agency that was to provide a camera to facilitate the landing. The ESA halted the partnership soon after the February 2022 invasion and requested Roscosmos to remove its camera from the spacecraft.

Years earlier, Russia hoped to buy the main navigation device for the lunar mission from Airbus, but couldn’t due to restrictions blocking the technology transfer. In the end, it developed its own equipment that delayed the project and weighed twice as much, reducing the scientific payload for the spacecraft that weighed 1,750 kilograms (over 3,800 pounds).

Many industry experts note that even before the latest Western sanctions, the use of substandard components led to the collapse of an ambitious mission to send a probe to Mars’ moon Phobos in 2011. The spacecraft’s thrusters failed to send it on a path toward Mars and it burned in the Earth’s atmosphere — a problem that investigators attributed to using cheap commercial microchips that were unfit for the harsh conditions in space.

Some observers speculated that using the cheap components could have stemmed from a scheme to embezzle government funds, rather than importing the specialized equipment for the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which was designed by the NPO Lavochkin, the same company that developed Luna-25.

NPO Lavochkin designed fighter planes during World War II and was the main developer of Soviet robotic missions to the moon, Venus and Mars. Several top Lavochkin managers have been arrested on charges of abusing their office in recent years.

Following the Phobos failure, space officials talked about conducting a thorough revision of the lunar spacecraft design to avoid using similar substandard components. It’s unclear whether such work ever happened.

Russian state television had hailed Luna-25 as the country’s triumphant entry into a new moon race, but since the crash, the broadcasters have tried to play down the loss of the spacecraft. Some argued the mission wasn’t a complete failure because it sent back pictures of the lunar surface from orbit and other data.

Borisov tried to stay optimistic, arguing it achieved some important results.

He insisted that taking part in lunar research “not only means prestige or achieving geopolitical goals, it is necessary to ensure defense capability and technological sovereignty.”

“I hope that the next missions … will be successful,” Borisov said, adding that Roscosmos will intensify work on future moon missions, the next of which is planned for 2027.

“Under no circumstances we should interrupt our lunar program. It would be an utterly wrong decision,” he said.

Amid the finger-pointing, some argued the failure could cost Borisov his job. Others predicted he probably would avoid the dismissal, noting President Vladimir Putin’s record of avoiding quick ousters of officials in response to incidents.

Borisov, who previously served as a deputy prime minister in charge of arms industries, became Roscosmos chief a year ago, succeeding Dmitry Rogozin, who was widely blamed for some earlier space mishaps. Rogozin, who has joined the fighting in Ukraine as a volunteer, has not commented on the failed Luna-25 mission.

Under Rogozin, Roscosmos suffered a series of failed satellite launches. Combined with the growing role of private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, those failures have cost Russia its once-sizable niche in the lucrative global space launch market.

Rogozin was widely criticized for failing to root out endemic graft, including funds embezzled during the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, which was used to launch the latest moon mission.

Some commentators said the Luna-25 crash dented Russian prestige and raised new doubts about its technological prowess following military blunders in Ukraine.

“The consequences of the Luna-25 catastrophe are enormous,” pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said.

“It raises doubts about Russia’s claims of a great power status in the eyes of the global community. Many would decide that Russia can’t fulfill its ambitions either in Ukraine or on the moon because it lives not by its modest current capability but rather fantasies about its great past,” he said. “People as well as countries want to side with the strong who win, not the weak who keep making excuses about their defeats.”

Source : AP News

Instagram

Instagram has returned empty data. Please authorize your Instagram account in the plugin settings .

Advertisement

Advertisement Small

Flickr

  • Arrosticini (Pastorie)
  • Sinagoga
  • Salumi
  • Ange (detail) - Jugement dernier (13ème s.) Basilica di S. Cecilia in Trastevere
  • A cappella
  • WeGil
  • Post-Tar
  • Merulana
  • Tram 19

ThemeForest

Collaboratively harness market-driven processes whereas resource-leveling internal or "organic" sources. Competently formulate.

Calendar

May 2024
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

RSS Meks Blog

  • 10 Best Knowledge Base & Wiki WordPress Themes 2021 September 15, 2021
    Running a successful online business requires an exceptional WordPress knowledge base theme that organizes documentation and helps customers. Customization options, intuitive navigation, unique layouts, and fast responsiveness are just some of the features you need. The following 10 WordPress wiki themes represent the best options for 2021 and beyond. Explore the full range to determine […]
    Dusan Milovanovic
  • How to increase WordPress Memory Limit (quick fixes) June 16, 2021
    Here is a post about how to increase the memory limit in WordPress. Allowed memory size exhausted error message showed up in your WordPress installation? No worries – this is one of the most common errors in WordPress. You can apply an easy fix by increasing the memory limit in your PHP. Table of Contents […]
    Dusan Milovanovic
  • How to use (and why) WordPress sitemap plugin March 1, 2021
    Did you know that by knowing how to use the WordPress sitemap plugin you can significantly improve your site’s visibility and traffic? Although it isn’t mandatory to have a sitemap on your site, having one significantly improves the site’s quality, crawlability and indexing. All this is important for better optimization, which is why we wanted […]
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • 22 free and premium podcast software for your show [2021 edition] January 18, 2021
    You’re determined to start or improve your podcast but don’t know which podcast software to use to really make it stand out? We’ve got you! #podcasting Top 22 free and premium podcast software for your show #WordPressTips #podcasting The post 22 free and premium podcast software for your show [2021 edition] appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • Digital storytelling with WordPress – an all-in-one guide to make your web stories pop! November 23, 2020
    Wondering how to improve digital storytelling with WordPress and build more awareness and exposure of your business? Let our guide lead the way. The post Digital storytelling with WordPress – an all-in-one guide to make your web stories pop! appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to use WordPress autoposting plugin to improve your visibility and SEO? September 10, 2020
    Did you know you can use the WordPress autoposting plugin for your content efforts and improve not only your time management but your business and visibility as well? The post How to use WordPress autoposting plugin to improve your visibility and SEO? appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to create a personal branding site? Step-by-step DIY guide August 15, 2020
    Looking for ways and means to create a personal branding site? Well, look no further ’cause we’re giving away all the how-to’s to do it yourselves! The post How to create a personal branding site? Step-by-step DIY guide appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • Top 15 WordPress content plugins and tools to improve your visibility and rankings July 16, 2020
    Let’s take a look at some of the must-have WordPress content plugins and tools to use to improve both your UX and rankings. The post Top 15 WordPress content plugins and tools to improve your visibility and rankings appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • WCEU 2020 recap – key takeaways from the biggest online WordPress conference June 9, 2020
    Missed WCEU 2020 and all the exciting stuff from there? Here are all the key takeaways and main points to remember so, take notes! The post WCEU 2020 recap – key takeaways from the biggest online WordPress conference appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to change the WordPress username? An easy step-by-step guide May 14, 2020
    Wondering how can you change WordPress username once you set up your blog or site? Read all about it in our helpful guide! The post How to change the WordPress username? An easy step-by-step guide appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic

Text

Distinctively utilize long-term high-impact total linkage whereas high-payoff experiences. Appropriately communicate 24/365.