Russia’s lunar mission Luna-25 failed due to bad software and electronics, said Nilesh Desai, director of the Space Applications Center (SAC), Ahmedabad, a leading center of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
While delivering the inaugural address at the 62nd Foundation Day of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune on Friday, Desai also talked about upcoming lunar missions for ISRO, which aims to carry a 350 kg explorer.
India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 made history by landing on the lunar surface on August 23. When the lander achieved a ‘soft landing’ on the South Pole of the Moon, India became the only country ever to do so.
However, the Russian spacecraft was scheduled to reach the Moon a few days before Chandrayaan-3. “Suddenly Russia announced its decision to land at the South Pole and we thought we were destined to come second as Russia had access to better technology and machinery,” he said.
“They (Russia) started (the mission) on August 10; it was a very smooth launch; everything went perfectly. Then, on August 19th, they suddenly announced that their computer developed some anomaly so they couldn’t control the engine, but they were working on it and trying to fix it. Then on August 20, the news came that (Luna-25) crashed on the surface of the Moon,” he said.
“Thus India was destined to land at the South Pole (first) and succeeded. It was a classic case of the tortoise and the hare,” he said.
“Afterwards I discussed with my chairman why this happened (with Russia). Of course they are ahead of us, but they are poor in software and electronics and that led to the downfall of this particular mission,” he added.
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Desai said ISRO chose the Moon’s south pole because it had not been explored much due to the region’s topography full of craters. Israeli and Japanese missions to the Moon’s south pole had previously failed.
Speaking about the failure of the Chandrayaan-2 mission in 2019, Desai said that there was a software error in the program that controlled the engine, which failed to de-accelerate the engine. He noted that several changes were made to the spacecraft’s design to ensure the proper landing of Chandrayaan-3.
Talking about future missions, Desai said that they have plans for a joint mission with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). This mission will see ISRO deliver the lander while JAXA delivers a 350 kg rover. The lifetime of this mission is expected to be 100 days and it will explore polar regions.