Russia Launches Space Mission to Hunt for Water Ice at Moon’s South Pole
Russia launched Luna-25, an uncrewed spacecraft, to place a robotic lander near the moon’s icy south pole amid international economic sanctions.
On August 11, Russia launched an uncrewed spacecraft called Luna-25, heading to the moon. Years in the making, the Luna-25 mission will try to put a robotic lander near the moon’s icy south pole at a time when the Kremlin is facing international economic sanctions.
As Russia’s first moon mission in almost 50 years, when the Soviet Union and the United States were competing during the Cold War era, it aims to land at the lunar south pole for the first time to look for valuable water ice.
Luna-25 was launched from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, and its first attempt at landing is on August 21. The mission is the first of several planned in the coming years by China and the US, and it opens a very close race with India’s own Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, set to soft land near the south pole by August 23.
Why does it matter? Russia and possibly India reaching the moon’s south pole means access to a potential source of water and a possible site for a future lunar base. As water can be broken into hydrogen and oxygen, this would provide valuable resources for future explorers, advance scientific knowledge, and create a unique environment for robotic and future human exploration. Opening a geopolitical race in advanced space exploration could also mean Russia and China joining forces in the future, with deep political and diplomatic implications.