The Luna-25 probe, Russia’s first Moon mission in almost 50 years, has crashed on the Moon after an incident during pre-landing manoeuvres, Russian space agency Roscosmos said on Sunday.
Communication with Luna-25 was lost at 2:57 pm (1157 GMT) on Saturday, Roscosmos said.
According to preliminary findings, the lander “has ceased to exist following a collision with the Moon’s surface”, Roscosmos said.
“Measures taken on August 19 and 20 to locate the craft and make contact with it were unsuccessful.”
The space agency said an investigation would be launched into the causes of the crash, without giving any indication of what technical problems might have occurred.
With Luna-25, Moscow had hoped to build on the legacy of its Soviet-era Luna programme, marking a return to independent lunar exploration in the face of growing isolation from the West.
The 800-kilogram Luna-25 probe was to have made a soft landing on the lunar south pole, the first in history.
Russia has not attempted to land on a celestial body since 1989, when the Soviet Union’s ill-fated Phobos 2 probe to explore the moons of Mars failed due to an onboard computer malfunction.
Roscosmos boss Yuri Borisov had said the venture would be “risky”, telling President Vladimir Putin face to face in June that the probability of it succeeding was “around 70 percent”.