Russia's upcoming moon mission has been hit with a further delay.
"It was established that it would be appropriate to launch the Luna 25 spacecraft in August 2023," the press service for Russia's space agency Roscosmos stated on May 30, according to TASS.
Roscosmos said the spacecraft is now going through the final cycle of ground tests. "Statistic simulation of the mission's key stage — a soft landing on the lunar surface — is now nearing completion," a Roscosmos spokesperson said.
Luna 25 will be Russia's first lunar expedition since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Luna 24 lunar sample return in 1976 was the final Soviet moon mission.
When it does fly, the spacecraft will be launched by a Soyuz-2.1b rocket with a Fregat booster from the Vostochny space center in the Russian Far East.
The lander will target the lunar south polar region, where it will operate for at least a year. Its science payloads will probe the lunar surface to reveal its composition and structure, as well as other properties of lunar polar regolith. The mission will also analyze the local dust and the tenuous plasma exosphere environment.
European Space Agency involvement in the mission, through the specially built European Pilot-D camera, was canceled by the agency following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
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Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.