Russia revealed on Tuesday that it had postponed its first mission to the surface of the moon in decades due to “problems” encountered during testing of the Luna-25 spacecraft.
The country’s Roscosmos space agency announced last week that the mission – originally scheduled for October 1 – to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far East had been moved to May 2022.
The Luna-25 mission to the South Pole of the Moon aims to probe the ice deposits there. It will be the first Russian mission to the surface of the Moon in 45 years and the first in its post-Soviet history.
The chief engineer of the Russian state design bureau NPO Lavochkin explained the delay on Tuesday, saying it needed “more time” to complete the tests.
“We encountered some problems during the tests,” Alexander Shirshakov told the Interfax news agency.
“A safe landing system is of critical importance and we are working on the Luna-25 soft landing system,” Shirshakov said.
The race to the moon is in full swing after China in December 2020 became the first country to return moon samples since the Soviet Luna-24 mission in 1976.
U.S. space agency NASA has also pledged to land the next man and first woman on the moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis program.
Meanwhile, Russia and China announced plans for a joint lunar station in March.
The Russian space program inherited from the Soviet Union has suffered in recent years from problems such as corruption scandals and budget cuts.
Its space industry took a hit in 2020 when it lost its monopoly on manned flights to the ISS after the successful mission of Space X, the company owned by US billionaire Elon Musk.
Roscosmos has however announced a number of companies including a mission to Venus and the creation of a rocket capable of performing round trips in space.
Russia has also indicated that it plans to leave the International Space Station and launch its own orbital station in 2025.
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