Russia revealed on Tuesday that it had postponed its first mission to the lunar surface in decades as a result of “problems” encountered during testing of the Luna-25 spacecraft.
The country’s space agency, Roscosmos, announced last week that the mission – originally scheduled for Oct. 1 – from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East had been transferred to May 2022.
The Luna-25 mission to the Moon’s south pole aims to probe ice deposits there. This will be Russia’s first mission to the lunar surface in 45 years and the first in its post-Soviet history.
Russian state project office chief engineer NPO Lavochkin explained the delay on Tuesday, saying “more time” was needed to successfully complete the tests.
“We encountered certain problems during testing,” Alexander Shirshakov told the Interfax news agency.
“A safe landing system is of crucial importance and we are working on the Luna-25’s soft landing system,” said Shirshakov.
The race back to the moon is in full swing after China, in December 2020, became the first country to return moon samples since the Soviet Luna-24 mission in 1976.
The US space agency NASA has also promised to land the next man and woman on the moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis program.
Meanwhile, Russia and China announced plans in March for a joint lunar station.
The Russian space program inherited from the Soviet Union has suffered in recent years from problems such as corruption scandals and budget cuts.
Its space industry took a hit in 2020, when it lost its monopoly on manned flights to the ISS after the successful mission of Space X, a company owned by US billionaire Elon Musk.
Roscosmos, however, announced a series of developments, including a mission to Venus and the creation of a rocket capable of traveling back and forth to space.
Russia also indicated that it plans to leave the International Space Station and launch its own orbital station in 2025.
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