Maybe 2022 will be the year of Luna 25. The very-delayed Russian Moon mission might finally launch in the summer. That's according to an announcement from the Russian Space Program, stressed yesterday by President Vladimir Putin.
“We will continue to create a new generation transport ship and technologies for nuclear space energy, where we certainly have a very good and absolutely clear advantage. We will resume the lunar program,” Putin is reported to have said, according to Russian-state affiliated news company RIA.
Putin said that the country will carry out its plan for space “despite attempts from outside to prevent it from moving forward” – that’s a reference to the sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine and the unfolding war crimes perpetrated by the Russian military in the former Soviet republic.
The Russian plan for space expects Luna 25 to launch this August. It is a robotic mission designed to prove landing technology and has 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of scientific instruments to study the soil of Boguslavsky crater. It will be followed by Luna 26 in 2024, an orbiter to map the moon, and then it will be the time for Luna 27 – a lander expected for August 2025. To top off this ambitious plan, Russia wants to land humans on the Moon between 2027 and 2028.
Skepticism remains about whether these plans will come to fruition, however. The European Space Agency (ESA) appears to have issued a statement in response to this announcement, the latest in its "Redirecting ESA Programmes In Response To Geopolitical Crisis" statements, ending cooperation on the Luna lunches.
"ESA will discontinue cooperative activities with Russia on Luna-25, -26, and -27" the agency announced. "As with ExoMars, the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the resulting sanctions put in place represent a fundamental change of circumstances and make it impossible for ESA to implement the planned lunar cooperation."
[H/T: The Moscow Times]
Article updated to include ESA's subsequent response and statement.