Russia has reported an “abnormal situation” at its moon-bound spacecraft which launched earlier this month.
Luna-25 is an unmanned robot lander and the country’s first mission to the lunar surface in almost 50 years.
It’s targeting a historic touchdown at the moon’s south pole on Monday, but appears to have run into unspecified trouble while preparing for a pre-landing orbit.
Russia‘s space agency, Roskosmos, said its specialists were analysing the situation.
No further details have been provided.
It comes a week after the craft’s data-collecting equipment was switched on following its launch from Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s far eastern Amur region.
The size of a small car, it blasted off on a Soyuz rocket and entered the moon’s orbit on Wednesday. It’s since sent back photos of the Zeeman crater, the third deepest in the lunar surface’s southern hemisphere.
Russia hopes when Luna-25 lands, it will spend a year collecting samples of rock and dust to get a sense of whether the moon could support a permanent base for humans.
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Historic trip to find water ice
The region where it’s aiming to land is known for its rough terrain, but is also thought to hold pockets of water ice.
If it does, it could be used for fuel, oxygen, and drinking water, potentially allowing for longer human trips.
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Russia is racing against India to make the ambitious landing, with its rival having launched its own lunar lander Chandrayaan-3 last month.
Space agencies including NASA have detected frozen water in the moon’s south pole craters before, but no country has ever actually ventured into the region.
A previous attempt by India crashed near where Chandrayaan-3 hopes to land on Wednesday.