The spacecraft for the Luna-25 mission will be launched from the Vostochny launch site in the Amur Region in August this year.
The long-awaited launch of the first mission to the Moon in the history of modern Russia - Luna-25 - on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket is now scheduled for August 22, Alexander Mitkin, deputy general designer for electrical systems at the Lavochkin Science and Production Association, said at a press conference.
"On the eighteenth of July we leave for the Vostochny cosmodrome, and on August 22 we will fly to the Moon," he said. The purpose of the mission is to practice soft landing technology at the South Pole and conduct research.
The apparatus weighs 1,750 kilograms and has nine instruments. The launch has been postponed several times: previously it was expected in May or July of this year. In the first half of March, autonomous tests of the technological sensor control system and comprehensive tests with two mock-ups of Luna-25 were completed at the cosmodrome in the Amur Region. Assembly of the automatic station itself was completed in December.
"The apparatus has been assembled, additional checks and tests are being conducted. We are just choosing the most convenient ballistic routes. <...> We will approach this launch calmly. It [the launch] is very important for us, because for the first time in 46 years we are entering a lunar orbit and then landing at the South Pole of the Moon, which is important for our scientists - they are convinced there is water ice there. Water ice is water, it's oxygen, it's fuel, it's basically all the necessary and sufficient conditions to provide a long-term scientific base, including possibly an inhabited base. Therefore, the first spacecraft will be sent there and it should be the one to confirm the correct point," Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said earlier.
We will find out very soon if the launch will take place on the scheduled date and if it will be successful. The launch window is open until October. The journey to the earth satellite will take about five days.
Russia then plans to carry out the missions Luna-26 (according to preliminary data, in 2024), Luna-27 (in 2025) and Luna-28 (in 2027-2028) - for mapping, soil sampling and practicing the landing of astronauts on it, respectively.
The last time a domestic unmanned interplanetary station was launched to the Moon was on August 9, 1976, with the Proton-K/D rocket - it was the Soviet Luna-24 (hence the continuation of the line of names for the stations). At the end of that month, the spacecraft returned to Earth and brought back nearly 200 grams of lunar soil, some of which the Soviets shared with NASA.