Russia postpones launch of Luna-25 lander to 2023

Russia’s resumption of lunar exploration with the Luna-25 robotic descent vehicle has been postponed to 2023.

The postponement was told to the Russian news agency TASS by the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, Yuri Borisov, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum on Wednesday (September 7). When asked if Luna-25 had been postponed to next year, Borisov replied: “Unfortunately, yes,” TASS reports. (will open in a new tab).

The velocity and distance sensor that will help the lander make a safe and soft landing on the moon reportedly didn’t perform well during testing, causing a delay from this month to 2023. The sensor was manufactured by the Vega concern, which is part of the Ruselectronics holding of Rostec. The company, which is owned by the state corporation Rostec, reports TASS.

On the subject: 10 best Soviet and Russian space missions

Landing at the South Pole

Luna 25 will be the first mission in modern Russian history to go to the moon. (The Soviet Union, which collapsed in the early 1990s, sent a series of probes to Earth’s nearest neighbor.) The probe is aimed at the Moon’s south pole, landing near the Boguslav crater.

The “fallback zone” for the landing craft is located southwest of Manzini Crater.

The Russian robotic lunar lander was built and is being tested by the aerospace company NPO Lavochkin. The planned launch of Luna 25 has been repeatedly pushed back from last year to May, August, then to September 2022, and now to 2023.

Responsibilities for Soil Sampling

Luna 25 will study the upper surface layer and thin lunar atmosphere, and help develop landing and soil sampling technologies. The claimed active life of the probe on the lunar surface is at least one Earth year.

This Russian lunar mission continues a series of explorations of the moon of the former Soviet Union that ended back in 1976, when Luna 24 successfully delivered about 6 ounces (170 grams) of lunar soil to Earth.

The Luna-25 mission will be followed by the Luna-26 orbiter and the Luna-27 lander, after which Russia will begin the deployment of a scientific base on the Moon in cooperation with China.

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) had to provide a European Pilot-D camera built specifically for the Luna-25 landing on the Moon. After the February invasion, ESA ended cooperation with the chamber, among a number of other joint space projects with Russia.

Leonard David is the author of Moon Rush: The New Space Race published by National Geographic in May 2019. David, a longtime contributor to, has been writing about the space industry for over five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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