An unmanned Russian spacecraft spun out of control during orbit and crashed into the moon, according to the country’s space agency on Sunday, August 20.
The pilotless spacecraft was aiming to be the first ever to land on the south pole of the moon, an area where scientists believe there could be important reserves of frozen water and precious elements. It had been expected to land Monday, August 21.
However giving an update on the project, Roscosmos said it lost contact with the Luna-25 on Saturday after the spacecraft ran into difficulties and reported an “abnormal situation.”
“The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon,” read a statement from the agency.
The Luna-25 was in a race with an Indian spacecraft to be the first to reach the south pole. Both were expected to reach the moon between Aug. 21 and 23.
The lunar mission was Russia’s first since 1976, when it was part of the Soviet Union. Only three governments have managed successful moon landings: the Soviet Union, the United States and China.
A previous Indian attempt to land at the south pole in 2019 ended when the spacecraft crashed into the moon’s surface. The United States, China and other space-faring nations are also expected to probe the area in the coming years.