23 September 2023

Digital Technology Guru

Digital Technology Guru Reviews

The Race to the Moon: Recent Lunar Crashes and Future Missions

2 min read
The Race to the Moon: Recent Lunar Crashes and Future Missions

In recent years, there has been a surge in missions to the Moon, as countries and companies around the world compete to explore our celestial neighbor. However, with this rush to reach the lunar surface, there have been several failed attempts and crashes that highlight the challenges of space exploration.

One notable crash occurred in April 2019 when the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet’s gyroscopes failed during descent, causing it to crash into Mare Serenitatis. Similarly, in September of the same year, India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission deviated from its trajectory and experienced a “hard landing” near the Moon’s south pole. More recently, in April, Japan’s ispace mission ended prematurely when the HAKUTO-R spacecraft mistakenly turned off its engines while still 5km above the surface of Mare Frigoris.

These failures demonstrate the difficulties of landing on the Moon, as the lunar gravity is weaker than Earth’s but still requires precise navigation. Russia’s Luna 25 mission, launched in August 2021, faced a similar fate when contact with the probe was lost as it attempted to adjust its orbit. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced that the spacecraft collided with the Moon’s surface due to a deviation in its propulsion maneuver.

The Russian failure is particularly embarrassing considering their past achievements in space exploration. While they never landed humans on the Moon like the United States, the Soviet Union, from which Russia’s space program originates, accomplished sophisticated missions involving rovers and sample return missions. This failure underscores the decline of Russia’s capabilities in space exploration since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Furthermore, Russia’s space program has faced other challenges, such as competition from companies like SpaceX and the loss of its exclusive role in transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. With the upcoming launch of Chandrayaan-3, India aims to become the fourth country to successfully land on the Moon, following the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.

Looking ahead, the race to the Moon shows no signs of slowing down. Japan’s SLIM mission plans to achieve a pinpoint accurate landing in August, and Intuitive Machines, a Texas-based startup, aims to launch a spacecraft to the Moon’s south pole to land payloads from NASA later this year. The United States and China have also planned future missions, along with ispace’s second landing attempt.

As these missions continue, there is an anticipation of more interesting data and discoveries, despite the occasional crater along the way.