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The launch of the first Russian mission to the Moon in nearly 50 years

The launch of the first Russian mission to the Moon in nearly 50 years

Russia launched its first probe to the moon in nearly 50 years, on Friday, in a mission aimed at giving a new impetus to its space sector, which has been suffering for years and isolated due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The launch of the Luna-25 probe is Moscow’s first lunar mission since 1976, when it wasUSSR She was a pioneer in the conquest of space. A star that faded due to financing issues and corruption scandals.

And the Soyuz rocket carrying this probe, which weighs 800 kilograms, took off at the exact time, at 2:10 am, from the Vostochny space base in the far east of Russia, according to images broadcast live by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The chariot rose in a column of smoke and flames under a gray sky. It should reach lunar orbit in five days. It will then spend three to seven days there to choose a suitable landing site in the lunar south pole region.

ambitious mission

According to a source within Roscosmos that I contactedFrance Press agencyThe agency expects the probe to land on the lunar surface around August 21.

For the first time in history, a lunar landing will take place at the lunar south pole. Until now, everyone had been landing in the Tropical Zonewelcomed Roscosmos’ senior official, Alexander Blokhin, in a recent interview with the Official Gazette Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The mission of the probe, which will remain on the moon for a year, will be Soil sampling and analysisBeside Conducting long-term scientific researchthe space agency said.

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This launch is the first mission of Russia’s new moon program, which begins when Roskosmos is denied its partnership with the West. As with its diplomatic orientation, Moscow seeks to develop space cooperation with China.

Ambitions are high: according to Russian space specialist Vitaly Egorov, this is the first time that post-Soviet Russia has attempted to send a device to a celestial body.

The bigger question will be: Can it land? The expert explained toFrance Press agencyConfirming that this task Of utmost importance For Russia.

Reporting by Sarah Deary

The importance of success

President Vladimir Putin has promised to continue Russia’s space program despite the sanctions, citing the example of TransmissionUSSR The first man in space in 1961, amid rising tensions between East and West.

We are guided by the ambition of our ancestors to move forward despite the difficulties and external attempts that prevent us from doing so.Putin said, speaking at Vostochny Cosmodrome last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks next to cutting missiles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Vostochny cosmodrome in April 2022 to highlight the importance of Russia’s space programme. (file photo)

Photo: sputnik/afp via getty Images/Yevgeny Biyatov

However, the mission of Luna-25 is Riskywith the acceptance of the head of Roskosmos Yuri Borisov. The probability of success of such missions is estimated at about 70%.This is what he told Vladimir Putin at a meeting in June.

The first stage of the Soyuz launcher is to be located near the village of Chakhtinsky, in the Khabarovsk region, in the Russian Far East. The authorities announced the evacuation of its residents from Friday morning.

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Historic moment

The last Soviet mission to the Moon in 1976, Luna-24, returned soil samples to Earth.

The space sector is a source of great pride for Russia, as the Soviets launched the first satellite, Sputnik, and sent the first animal, a dog named Laika, into Earth orbit, but also the first man, Yuri Gagarin, and then the first wife, Valentina Tereshkova.

I’USSR However, it was beaten by the United States for the first man on the moon, by Neil Armstrong’s flight in July 1969.

Russia’s space program, which still relies heavily on Soviet design technologies, struggles to innovate and is chronically underfunded, with Moscow prioritizing military spending.

It has also been marked by corruption scandals and a few failed launches, while it is increasingly challenged by the United States and China, as well as private initiatives, such as those of SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk.