Russia Launches Country's First Moon Mission in 47 Years

Aug 14, 2023

Russia on Friday fired a rocket carrying its first mission to the moon in nearly 50 years. 

The unmanned Soyuz 21 rocket successfully reached space and is making a beeline toward the moon. It's expected to land on the moon on August 21. Once there, Soyuz 21 will serve as home base for Luna-25. That's a data-collecting rover about the size of a small car.

Luna-25 will be on the moon for a year. It will study the crater-pocked surface of the lunar South Pole. There, Russian scientists hope to find pockets of frozen water. That water could be a game-changer in support of future long-term manned missions to the moon. It could also help the building of a base on the moon. Water could be converted to both fuel and oxygen. It could also be used by astronauts for drinking.  

Though the mission’s goal is one of research, some experts view the launch as a political statement by Russia. 

“It's an expression of national power on the global stage,” a professor of history at Fordham University told Reuters.

The US and Russia have long battled for supremacy in space. Recently, China has joined the race. But Russia’s most immediate competition is India. It launched its own lunar South Pole mission last month.

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: How do you think discovering resources on other planets, like water on the moon, could help us with exploring and living in space in the future?

What idea is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. The rivalry between Russia and China in space exploration.
b. The challenges of navigating through a soft landing on the moon.
c. The historic collaboration between Russia and the US in lunar missions.
d. The significance of Russia's lunar mission and its potential impact on future space exploration.
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