Russia is going back to the moon this year
The first of those missions, dubbed Luna 25, is scheduled to launch this October, ending a 45-year drought of Russian moon landings with the nation’s first arrival at the south pole, where, like everyone else targeting the moon, Russian scientists want to study water locked below the surface in permanent ice.
Russia has plenty of company in sketching out ambitious lunar exploration programs. The United States is targeting human exploration with its Artemis program, which also incorporates plenty of robotic moon missions. In December, China ferried the first fresh lunar samples to Earth in decades in a still-unfolding series of missions dubbed Chang’e. India and Israel have both promised successor spacecraft after their lunar landers — dubbed Chandrayaan-2 and Beresheet, respectively — crash-landed on the moon in 2019.
But only the U.S. can match Russia’s lunar heritage, which Russia is consciously tapping into by picking up the Luna series name and enumeration from where they left off in 1976. “We want to show some consistencies,” Zelenyi said.