Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft, the country’s first lunar mission in nearly 50 years, crashed into the surface of the moon on Sunday, Russian officials said.
The spacecraft, which was unmanned, entered the moon’s orbit last Wednesday and was supposed to land on the moon’s surface this coming week, Reuters reported.
According to Roscosmos, Russia’s national space agency, an ‘emergency situation’ happened on Saturday that caused the craft to not be placed on its proper orbital adjustment for landing.
The agency was unable to re-establish contact with the spacecraft, Roscosmos said.
“The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
According to Anatoly Zak, the publisher of RussianSpaceWeb.com, this mission has been in planning since the late 1990s. The craft is a relatively small four-legged lander with a robotic arm that it can use to collect surface samples, Zak told NPR.
Russia was the first to launch a satellite to orbit the Earth — Sputnik 1, in 1957 — and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space in 1961.
The last time a Russian spacecraft visited the moon was in 1976.