Luna 26 (Luna-Resurs-Orbiter) is a planned lunar polar orbiter, part of the Luna-Glob program, by the Russian space agency Roscosmos. In addition to its scientific role, the Luna 26 orbiter would also function as a telecomm relay between Earth and Russian landed assets. This mission was announced in November 2014, and its launch is planned for 2023 on a Soyuz-2 rocket.
|Launch mass||2,100 kg (4,600 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Peripolar altitude||100 km|
|Apopolar altitude||50 km|
The Luna 26 orbiter mission has been in planning since at least 2011. 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, but because of mass limitations, they will be launched separately. The orbiter's mass is about 2,100 kg.
The objective of the orbiter is to locate and quantify usable resources and materials that can be exploited by future landed missions. After completion of its primary mission, the spacecraft's orbit will be raised to about 500 km altitude to study cosmic rays.
The European Space Agency(ESA) will contribute to this and other Luna-Glob missions in the manner of communications, precision landing, hazard avoidance, drilling, sampling, sample analysis and ground support. As of October 2017, the USA space agency NASA is negotiating and assessing a potential collaboration with the Luna-Glob missions Luna 25 through Luna 28.
The scientific payload on board the orbiter is composed of fourteen instruments that will be fabricated by Russia and by some European partners. The payload will study the lunar surface and the environment around the Moon, including the solar wind, and high-energy cosmic rays. The orbiter may carry some NASA instruments, or instruments from private USA companies. Luna 26 will also scout sites for the next Luna 27 landing mission.
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