Russia is hoping to pick up where it left off in 1976.

Luna 25

Russia is planning to launch a mission to the Moon’s south pole — and it’s scheduled for launch this October, Space.com reports.

The mission, dubbed Luna 25, could be the first Russian moon landing since Luna 24, the country’s third lunar sample return mission, which launched in 1976.

The goal of the mission is to investigate ice deposits suspected to be buried beneath the Moon’s south pole. Such deposits could make establishing a more permanent presence on the space rock more feasible in the future. Russia is also hoping to explore the potential dangers of sharp fragments of lunar dust, anther obstacle to a longterm human presence on the Moon.

Ice Pirates

According to Lev Zelenyi, scientific advisor for the Russian Space Research Institute, who spoke during a virtual presentation on March 23, Russia is planning to send five missions to the Moon roughly within the next ten years.

In 2023 or 2024, Luna 26, an orbiter, will investigate any magnetic anomalies around the Moon. Future missions after that will attempt to retrieve samples of lunar ice, but without melting any possible ice compounds in the process, according to Space.com.

The race back to the Moon is heating up. China has managed to return the first lunar samples back to Earth since the Lunar 24 mission in 1976, and NASA is also hoping to return the first astronauts to the Moon since the Apollo missions as part of its Artemis program, with a first crewed launch tentatively targeting 2024.

Will any of them pull it off? It’s possible — but only time, and substantial government funding, will tell.

READ MORE: Russia is going back to the moon this year [Space.com]

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