Succesful launch of Luna25 from Vostochny, the new russian facility. Will it land in the south pole of our moon? We will see in few weeks! Image: Roscosmos.

. Luna-25, the first lunar mission in the history of modern Russia, took off from the Vostochny launch facility in Russia’s Far East on Friday, a TASS correspondent reported from the space center.

The Fregat booster separated from the rocket’s third stage approximately 564 seconds into the flight. The Luna-25 spacecraft will separate from the booster about an hour after the launch.

The flight to the Moon will take up to 5.5 days.

The spacecraft will spend between three and seven days about 100 km above the lunar surface before touching down in the area of the Boguslawsky crater. Manzinus and Pentland-A craters have been named as alternative landing sites.

The mission’s key goal will be to polish the soft landing technology. The mission may become the first spacecraft ever to land near the South Pole of the Earth’s natural satellite. The spacecraft will look for natural resources, including water, and study the effects of space rays and electromagnetic emissions on the lunar surface.

The lander is equipped with several cameras. They will make a timelapse footage of the landing and an HDR wide-angle image of the moonscape. Luna-25 will turn its cameras during pre-programmed periods and on a signal from the Earth.

If the “LUNA-25” is able to Successfully land at the Lunar South Pole near the Bogislavsky Crater like is being planned, it could possibly be the First Lander/Station to land in this Area of the Moon with the Indian “Chandrayaan-2” which was attempting to do the same Crashing in 2019.

However the Indian Space Agency has since launched the “Chandrayaan-3” Lunar Lander on July 14th of 2023 with both the Russian and Indian Landers now in Earths Orbit and expected to land on the Moon around the same time, so it is going to be Race to see who can Successfully be the First to Land.

Luna 25 is a lunar lander mission by Roscosmos. It will land near the lunar south pole at the Boguslavsky crater. Initially called Luna-Glob lander, it was renamed to Luna 25 to emphasize the continuity of the Soviet Luna programme from the 1970s, though it is still part of what was at one point conceptualized as the Luna-Glob lunar exploration program. The Luna-25 mission lifted off on August 10, 2023, 23:10 UTC, atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far eastern Amur Region.

The previous Russian (Soviet) lunar lander was Luna 24 in the mid-1970s. Nascent plans for what became Luna 25 began in the late 1990s, with the evaluation of two spacecraft designs having taken place by 1998. Attempts to revive and complete the project continued throughout the 2000s and were punctuated by an aborted attempt at international cooperation via a merger with JAXA’s now-cancelled Lunar-A orbiter, and pressure from another attempted cooperative lunar mission with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) (which continued without Russia’s involvement).

Delays in the 2010s came first from the significant rework and delay brought on by the failure of Phobos-Grunt in 2011. This is the point at which the modern Luna 25 design was developed. Later, work on the lander was slowed by resource pressures being placed upon spacecraft developer NPO Lavochkin, such as the weather satellite Elektro-L No.2 and the Spektr-RG observatory as well the landing platform Russia was contributing to ExoMars 2020.

By 2017, the propulsion system for the spacecraft was in assembly.

Initial mission plans called for a lander and orbiter, with the latter also deploying impact penetrators. In its current form, Luna 25 is a lander only, with a primary mission of proving out the landing technology. The mission will carry 30 kg (66 lb) of scientific instruments, including a robotic arm for soil samples and possible drilling hardware.

The launch took place as planned on 10 August 2023 on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket with Fregat upper stage, from Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Science payload

The lander will feature a 30 kg (66 lb) payload composed by 9 notional science instruments:

ADRON-LR, active neutron and gamma-ray analysis of regolith

ARIES-L, measurement of plasma in the exosphere

LASMA-LR, laser mass-spectrometer

LIS-TV-RPM, infrared spectrometry of minerals and imaging

PmL, measurement of dust and micro-meteorites

THERMO-L, measurement of the thermal properties of regolith

STS-L, panoramic and local imaging

Laser retroreflector, Moon libration and ranging experiments

BUNI, power and science data support

LINA-XSAN, a Swedish payload, was originally to fly with Luna 25, but delays to the launch date caused Sweden to cancel this plan. Instead, LINA-XSAN flew on Chang’e 4 in 2019.

ESA’s PILOT-D navigation demonstration camera was planned to be flown on this mission, but is already being procured from a commercial service provider and will fly along with them on their mission  due to continued international collaboration having been thrown into doubt by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions on Russia.