Russia launches lunar lander in race to find water on moon By Reuters

by The Insights

© Reuters. A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage and the lunar landing spacecraft Luna-25 blasts off from a launchpad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, in this still image from video taken August 11, 2023. Roscosmos/


By Guy Faulconbridge and Joey Roulette

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia launched its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years on Thursday in a bid to be the first power to make a soft landing on the lunar south pole, a region believed to hold coveted pockets of water ice.

A Soyuz 2.1v rocket carrying the Luna-25 craft blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome, 3,450 miles (5,550 km) east of Moscow, on Friday at 0211 Moscow time. The lander is due to touch down on the moon on Aug. 23, Russia’s space agency said.

The Russian lunar mission, the first since 1976, is racing against India, which sent up its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander last month, and more broadly with the United States and China, which both have advanced lunar exploration programmes.

For centuries, astronomers have wondered about water on the moon, which is 100 times drier than the Sahara. NASA maps in 2018 showed water ice in the shadowed parts of the moon, and in 2020 NASA confirmed water exists on the sunlight areas.

(Reporting Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow and Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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