Russia is set to launch its first lunar landing spacecraft on Friday. They are in a race with India to the south pole of the moon, where there’s a potential source of water to support a future human presence there.
The launch will be the first Russia’s carried out in 47 years, and will take place at the Vostochny cosmodrome, 3,450 miles east of Moscow. It will take place a full month after India sent up its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, due to touch down at the pole on August 23, according to Reuters.
The terrain around the south pole is believed to be rough, but it’s a highly desired location due to the possibility of a water presence there. The region could be used for extracting fuel and oxygen, in addition to drinking water.
Russian space agency Roscosmos said that its Luna-25 spacecraft would take five days to fly to the moon, and it would then spend an additional five to seven days in lunar orbit before landing on one of the three possible landing sites near the pole. The timetable suggests that it could match or even beat out its Indian rival to the moon’s surface.
The agency mentioned that the two projects would not run into each other because they have two separate landing areas planned.
"There is no danger that they interfere with each other or collide,” the agency said. “There is enough space for everyone on the moon.”
Chandrayaan-3 will run experiments on the phone for just weeks. The Luna-25 will be working on the moon for a full year. The report mentioned that in April, Japan’s ispace (9348.T) failed in its attempt to be the first moon landing by a private space company.
“The moon is the seventh continent of the Earth so we are simply ‘condemned,’ as it were, to tame it,” said Lev Zeleny, a space researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences.