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Russia’s first moon mission in decades fails after spacecraft collides with surface

In this image made from video released by Roscosmos State Space Corporation, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket with the moon lander Luna-25 automatic station takes off from a launch pad at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023. Roscosmos, said Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, that the spacecraft ran into trouble while trying to enter a pre-landing orbit arounthe moon. (Roscosmos State Space Corporation via AP)

(CNN) — Russia’s first moon mission in decades has ended in failure after the Luna-25 spacecraft collided with the Moon’s surface.

The incident happened after communication with the spacecraft was interrupted, a blow to Russia’s space ambitions.

Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said it lost communication with Luna-25 on Saturday around 2:57pm Moscow time.

“The measures taken on August 19 and 20 to search for the device and get into contact with it did not yield any results,” it said.

According to preliminary calculations, Luna-25 “switched to an off-design orbit” before the collision, Roscosmos said.

A specially formed commission will investigate the reasons for the loss of Luna-25, the agency added.

The news comes a day after the spacecraft reported an “emergency situation” as it was trying to enter a pre-landing orbit, according to Roscosmos.

“During the operation, an emergency situation occurred on board the automatic station, which did not allow the maneuver to be performed with the specified parameters,” Roscosmos said in a Telegram post on Saturday.

The spacecraft was meant to be Russia’s first lunar landing mission in 47 years. The last lunar lander, Luna 24, landed on the surface of the Moon on August 18, 1976.

The Luna-25 spacecraft launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur Oblast on August 10, setting the vehicle on a swift trip to the moon.

Luna 25’s trajectory allowed it to surpass India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander, which launched in mid-July, on the way to the lunar surface.