By Guy Faulconbridge
MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia's first moon mission in 47 years failed after its Luna-25 space craft spun out of control and smashed into moon.
Russia's state space corporation, Roskosmos, said it had lost contact with the craft shortly after a problem occurred as the craft was shunted into pre-landing orbit on Saturday.
"The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon," Roskosmos said in a statement.
Failure for the prestige mission underscores the decline of Russia's space power since the glory days of Cold War competition when Moscow was the first to launch a satellite to orbit the Earth - Sputnik 1, in 1957 - and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space in 1961.
Russia has not attempted a moon mission since Luna-24 in 1976, when Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Kremlin. Luna-25 was supposed to execute a soft landing on the south pole of the moon on Aug. 21, according to Russian space officials.
Russia has been racing against India, whose Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is scheduled to land on the moon's south pole this week, and more broadly against China and the United States which both have advanced lunar ambitions.
(Reporting by Guy FaulconbridgeEditing by Christina Fincher)