London, August 11
A rocket carrying a lunar landing craft blasted off on Friday on Russia’s first moon mission in nearly 50 years.
The launch from Russia’s spaceport in the Far East of the Luna-25 craft to the moon is Russia’s first since 1976 when it was part of the Soviet Union.
The Russian lunar lander is expected to reach the moon on August 23, about the same day as an Indian craft which was launched on July 14.
Only three governments have managed successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China. India and Russia are aiming to be the first to land at the moon’s south pole.
Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, said it wants to show Russia “is a state capable of delivering a payload to the moon,” and “ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to the moon’s surface.” “Study of the moon is not the goal,” said Vitaly Egorov, a popular Russian space analyst.
“The goal is political competition between two superpowers — China and the US — and a number of other countries which also want to claim the title of space superpower.”