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India’s Lander Touches Down on the Moon. Russia’s Has Crashed

And nations should avoid cluttering those spots with mechanical detritus, which could complicate future missions. Like campers heading into the backcountry, it’s vital to consider carefully about what you pack with you and what you are taking out, Birk says.

India’s success doesn’t mean the tip of the race toward the moon’s south pole, however it does boost India’s standing. “This will definitely contribute to its status as a rising power with technological prowess. What’s happening in space is a mirrored image of what’s happening geopolitically on Earth,” says Cassandra Steer, an authority on space law and space security on the Australian National University in Canberra. And while Roscosmos suffered a setback, this isn’t the tip of their moon program either, or their role in the brand new lunar competition. The Soviets beat the US at every stage of the Twentieth-century space race, Steer says, apart from the landing of astronauts on the moon. Next, Russia intends to collaborate with China on a lunar research station.

Over the past decade, only China’s space program has achieved considerable success landing spacecraft on the moon, including its Chang’e 3, 4, and 5 missions in 2013, 2019, and 2020. India’s Chandrayaan-2 and Israel’s Beresheet lander failed in 2019, and Japan’s Ispace lander failed this April.

In fact, until China made its first landing, the moon had arguably been neglected for a long time. NASA ended its Apollo mission in 1972, and the USSR’s Luna-24 mission in 1976 was the last successful lunar landing. That could mean limited institutional memory, especially for Russia, making it tough to develop and deploy latest moon missions, Metzger says.

Over the past few a long time, Russia has been attempting to resuscitate its program, but with little success. Roscosmos has Luna-26 and Luna-27 planned for 2027 and 2029, because the agency goals to bring an orbiter and a bigger lander to the moon. But their limited funding, due to sanctions following the Ukraine invasion, means these followup missions will likely be delayed, Zak says. And if the space agency decides to overhaul their propulsion system design after investigating the failure of Luna-25, that could possibly be one more reason for delays, he adds.

NASA has fared higher with its Artemis program, which last yr sent the uncrewed Artemis 1 to orbit the moon and is aiming for a crewed landing in 2026. But this system has faced its own challenges: NASA plans on using a SpaceX Starship lander, though, as its abortive test flight in April shows, Starship clearly has an extended method to go. More than half of the ten cubesat satellites deployed by Artemis 1 experienced technical glitches or lost contact with Earth, including the Japanese Omotenashi probe, which was unable to land on the moon as planned.

NASA has increasingly relied on business partners in a bid to spice up the speed and lower the value of moon exploration—moving a number of the costs onto businesses, somewhat than taxpayers. But these firms, too, are latest players within the space race. In late 2024, NASA plans to send its Viper rover on an Astrobotic lander, though that company’s first moon lander, meant to display the technology, hasn’t even launched yet. NASA has also charged Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, and Draper with delivering a wide range of payloads to the lunar surface over the following couple years.

In the meantime, nations like India, Japan, and Israel have begun moon programs from scratch. India next plans to collaborate with Japan on the Lunar Polar Exploration rover, which might launch no ahead of 2026.

“We have set the bar now so high. Nothing less spectacular than that is going to be inspiring for any of us in the longer term,” said Shri M. Sankaran, director of ISRO’s U R Rao Satellite Centre, speaking on today’s telecast. “We will now be taking a look at putting a person in space, putting a spacecraft on Venus, and landing on Mars. Those efforts have been ongoing for years. This success today will encourage us and spur us to take those efforts much more strongly to make our country proud repeatedly and again.”

Updated 8/23/2023 12:00 pm ET: This story was updated to correct the ISRO chief’s name.

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