Two missions were recently destined for a lunar landing: India’s Chandrayaan-3 and Russia’s Luna-25. Both were destined for the vicinity of the lunar south pole, with Chandrayaan-3 successfully landing on August 23. Unfortunately, Luna-25 did not make its landing, crashing into the moon after an anomaly during a pre-landing maneuver. Space is hard, and while India celebrates, Russia is likely reviewing the mission to glean what it can for the future.
The Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-3 has a rover that will conduct science experiments on the lunar surface. Roscosmos’s Luna-25 did not have a rover but would have also conducted various experiments on the surface. Luna-25 was supposed to have ESA’s PILOT-D navigation camera on board; however, due to the war in Ukraine, this instrument was not on the mission. Reportedly, this camera was a demonstration article, not actually a part of the lander’s system.
Landing is one thing, and a hard thing to accomplish, as Luna-25 demonstrated. Chandrayaan-3’s mission continues, and it remains to be seen if the rover will do what it has set out to accomplish. India is now the fourth country to land on the moon, following the Soviet Union, United States, and China.