In the past week, we have seen two extremes with respect to the exploration of the moon. We have seen despair from Russia when it’s Luna 25 Spacecraft crash-landed on the moon. And, we have seen excitement from India when it’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully landed on the moon. For Russia, it will be the end of the mission, and all that is left is trying to figure out what went wrong. For India, it is the start of a period of exploration with the rover that is designed to traverse the lunar surface. Both countries were hoping for the best, but it does not always work out that way. Although a serious disappointment for Russia, there are valuable lessons that will be learned, even from failure.
The Space Environment is very harsh, and any miscalculation in that environment can have very serious consequences.
Tom Zurbuchen, former NASA head of science, tweeted that no one in the industry “wishes bad onto other explorers.” He continued “We are reminded that landing on any celestial object is anything by easy and straightforward. Just because others managed to do it decades ago, does not guarantee success today.”
Although our spacecraft may have become more advanced over the decades, the space environment remains a very hostile place where anything can happen, even to more advanced spacecraft.
To learn more about how adverse interactions between the space environment and a spacecraft may lead to a degradation of spacecraft subsystem performance and possibly even loss of the spacecraft itself, consider enrolling in the upcoming 2-day ATI course Space Environment: Implications for Spacecraft Design. You can learn more about the course, and register for it here.