India & Russia Clash In The Moon Race

The automatic stations of India and Russia plan to land on the Moon between August 21 and 24. The USA has the same goal, but it will take at least two years to achieve it.

In the dead of night on August 11, the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the automatic station Luna-25 was launched from the new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, with the main task of searching for water on this Earth’s satellite. The Russian station, the result of the most advanced space technology, is literally chasing its Indian “colleague,” the Chandrayaan-3 (Spaceship in Hindi) station that was launched on July 14, 2023.
Starting today and until August 20-24, all of humanity can witness the real Formula 1 in space. This is because the Chandrayaan-3 station that has already entered the lunar orbit on August 7 should land on August 23-24, while the Russian Luna-25, lighter and therefore much faster, is expected to reach the Earth’s satellite just five days after launch, then lock into orbit 100 kilometers above the surface of the Moon, and finally make a soft landing on August 21. Russian and Indian sources stressed that “this is pure coincidence” and that there is “no rivalry in space” between Moscow and New Delhi.
Both missions have as their main goal the search for huge deposits of frozen water that may be hidden deep in the lunar soil in areas around the North and South Poles of the Moon. If ice is indeed found in large quantities, this revolutionary discovery could pave the way for the construction of habitable Moon bases. The delivery of one liter of water to the International Space Station (ISS) now costs 25 thousand dollars. Possible water resources on the Moon could be used to produce oxygen for astronauts and to extract hydrogen, a versatile and environmentally friendly fuel.

From a space ballistics standpoint, landing a station near the Moon’s South Pole is an incredibly difficult task. In the past, all missions traveled to areas near the lunar equator. The Russian flight program provides for the landing of the Luna-25 station near the Boguslavsky crater, a giant lacune about 100 kilometers in diameter. “The south pole of the Moon is scattered with craters and could store reserves of ice in areas where sunlight never penetrates,” said Pavel Kazmerchuk, director of the Russian lunar program.
According to scientific assumptions, water on the Moon could have been carried there by comets 4.5 billion years ago. “This is a huge scientific secret,” representatives of the Russian mission emphasized, “but the study of macromolecular compounds of cosmic origin preserved in lunar glaciers could reveal the secret of the origin of life on Earth and make it possible to compare biochemical molecular structures on Earth and in space.”

Thus, Russia is returning to its lunar program 43 years after its unexpected halt in 1976, back in the days of the Soviet Union, when the last Soviet automatic station Luna-24 was launched. Unlike the Indian station Chandrayaan-3, which consists of a landing module named Vikram after the founder of the Indian space agency ISRO, and a lunar rover named Pragyan (wise knowledge), the Russian station Luna-25 has only one landing module equipped with an automatic “arm” that can drill the surface of the Moon in search of ancient ice 4.5 billion years old.