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Luna 26

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Luna 26
Maquette of Luna-26 Moon orbiter
Luna-Resurs O
Mission typeLunar reconnaissance
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeLuna
Launch mass2,100 kg (4,600 lb) [1]
Start of mission
Launch date2027 (planned)[2]
RocketSoyuz-2.1b / Fregat
Launch siteVostochny Site 1S
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric orbit
RegimePolar orbit
Periselene altitude80 km
Aposelene altitude50 km
Moon orbiter
← Luna 25
Luna 27 →

Luna 26 (Luna-Resurs-Orbiter[3] or Luna-Resurs O[4]) is a planned lunar polar orbiter, part of the Luna-Glob program, by Roscosmos. In addition to its scientific role, the Luna 26 orbiter would also function as a telecomm relay between Earth and Russian landed assets.[1] This mission was announced in November 2014, and its launch is planned for 2027 on a Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle.[2]


The Luna 26 orbiter mission has been in planning since at least 2011.[1] Originally it was envisioned to be launched to the Moon together with the lunar lander Luna 27 which will land on the South Pole–Aitken basin, an unexplored area on the far side of the Moon,[5][4][6] but because of mass limitations, they will be launched separately.[1] The orbiter's mass is about 2100 kg.[1]

The objective of the orbiter is to locate and quantify natural lunar resources that can be exploited by future landed missions.[7] After completion of its primary mission, the spacecraft's orbit will be raised to about 500 km altitude to study cosmic rays.[3]

International collaboration[edit]

The European Space Agency (ESA) had intended to contribute to this and other Luna-Glob missions in the manner of communications, precision landing, hazard avoidance, drilling, sampling, sample analysis and ground support.[8][9] ESA cooperation with Russia on Luna 26 was discontinued on 13 April 2022 as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[10]

As of October 2017, the U.S. space agency NASA was negotiating and assessing a potential collaboration with the Luna-Glob missions Luna 25 through Luna 28.[11]

In September 2019, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Roscosmos signed two agreements on scientific cooperation and coordination between Luna 26 and the upcoming Chang'e 7 lunar polar orbiter.[12]

Scientific payload[edit]

The scientific payload on board the orbiter is composed of fourteen instruments[1] that will be fabricated by Russia and by some European partners.[1] The payload will study the lunar surface and the environment around the Moon, including the solar wind, and high-energy cosmic rays.[1] The orbiter may carry some NASA instruments, or instruments from private U.S. companies.[11] Luna 26 will also scout landing sites for the planned Luna 27 lander mission.[13]


Following the failure of the Luna 25 mission, the fate of the Luna 26 orbiter has been put into question.[14] Due to the entire Roscosmos leadership team from Luna 25 being replaced, the Luna 26 mission is likely to continue as planned so that the new leadership team can get experience with a Lunar orbiter before attempting another landing with Luna 27.[15] However, there is still a chance that Luna 26 as it exists is scrapped in favor of another attempt at the Luna 25 lander. Regardless, the loss of Luna 25 will delay the Luna 26 mission in whatever form it takes.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Luna-Glob Orbiter (Luna-Glob 2/Luna 26 Anatoly Zak, RussianSpaceWeb.com 10 October 2014
  2. ^ a b "Launch dates for Luna-26 and Luna-27 will be specified based on the results of the release of technical projects (translated)". TASS. 27 February 2023. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b Russian Moon exploration program Russian Research Institute (IKI) 2017
  4. ^ a b "ESA's plans for Lunar Exploration" (PDF). European Space Agency (ESA). 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  5. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (16 October 2015). "Europe and Russia mission to assess Moon settlement". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Russia-ESA Lunar Exploration Cooperation: Luna Mission Speed Dating". European Space Agency (ESA). 17 February 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  7. ^ Sources of materials at the three high-priority landing sites of the Luna-Glob mission M. A. Ivanov, A. M. Abdrakhimov, A. T. Basilevsky, N. E. Demidov, E. N. Guseva, J. W. Head, H. Hiesinger, A. A. Kohanov, S. S. Krasilnikov; The Eighth Moscow Solar System Symposium, 2017
  8. ^ Exploring and Using Lunar Polar Volatiles International Strategic Coordination Published by NASA Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ "Luna-Glob" and "Luna-Resurs": science goals, payload and status Mitrofanov, Igor; Dolgopolov, Vladimir; Khartov, Viktor; Lukjanchikov, Alexandr; Tret'yakov, Vlad; Zelenyi, Lev; Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 16, EGU2014-6696, EGU General Assembly 2014
  10. ^ "Redirecting ESA programmes in response to geopolitical crisis". ESA (Press release). 13 April 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  11. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (13 October 2017). "NASA studying potential cooperation on Russian lunar science missions". SpaceNews. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Russia, China agree on joint Moon exploration". TASS. 17 September 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  13. ^ The "Simplest Satellite" That Opened up the Universe Zelenyi, Lev; Zakutnyaya, Olga; American Scientist; Research Triangle Park, Vol. 105, Issue 5, (September/October 2017): 282-289
  14. ^ "Russia lunar ambitions soar despite Luna-25 setback: Luna-26, Luna-27 missions in focus". The Week. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  15. ^ Katin, P. (20 August 2023). "Looking past Luna 25's lunar landing failure: what's next?". NASASpaceFlight.com.
  16. ^ O'Callaghan, Jonathan (2023). "Russian Moon lander crash — what happened, and what's next?". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-023-02659-6. PMID 37604864. S2CID 261063736. Retrieved 29 August 2023.