(Update 1: Adds details)
Moscow, Aug 11 (EFE).- Russia launched its Luna-25 lunar probe on Friday, aiming to become the first country to land on the South Pole of the moon, where it hopes to find water.
The unmanned probe was launched on a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket at 23:10 GMT from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far eastern Amur Region. It is expected to reach lunar orbit in 4-5 days.
The Luna-25 is the successor to the Soviet Luna-24, the third spacecraft to collect samples from the surface of the moon in August 1976.
The mission has suffered continuous delays since 2019, also contributed to by the decision of the European Space Agency last year to suspend its cooperation with the Russian lunar program due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Once the moon’s orbit is reached, the Russian spacecraft will still take up to seven days to maneuver and land north of the Boguslawski Crater in a rugged area with adverse conditions, according to the Russian space agency Roscomos.
It should then touch down on the surface of the moon around Aug. 21 – two days before the Indian Chandrayaan-2 probe, which was launched on July 14.
It’s expected that the probe will remain there and work for around a year.
The aim of the Russian mission is to develop moon landing technology, take surface samples and study the upper layer of the lunar regolith, from its relief to its composition and solidity, and also analyze its exosphere.
Russia hopes not only to be the first space power to land on the moon’s South Pole, but also to be the first to find water there.
President Vladimir Putin announced on Apr. 12 – on the 62nd anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight – his decision to urgently resume the lunar program, which aims to use the moon as a platform to explore the solar system. EFE