Moskovsky Komsomolets, a Moscow-based daily newspaper, reported that Melnikov was poisoned by inedible mushrooms. He was 77 years old. Doctors were unable to save him after he battled the "severe poisoning" for over two weeks. However, the circumstances surrounding his death have yet to be confirmed.
Russia's Luna-25 space craft spun out of control and crashed into the moon after a problem preparing for pre-landing orbit on Aug. 19.
Melnikov's death raised suspicion because there have been reports of suspicious deaths in Russia within the past two years. (Related: Medvedev calls for "physical elimination" of Zelensky following failed assassination attempt on Putin.)
Experts warn that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no qualms about ruling over a "mafia" state where murder is a tool often used to deal with enemies and keep his uneasy allies in line. Yevgeny Prigozhin, former leader of the Wagner Group, was the latest to join a staggering body count of at least 40 high-profile deaths linked to Putin.
Melnikov was a chief researcher at TsNIIMASH, a division of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. He wrote 291 scientific articles and was considered one of the most imminent space scientists. Melnikov had worked with foreign colleagues, including experts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He was also a professor at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.
Melnikov's death was reported after astronomer Mikhail Marov, 90, suffered a "sharp deterioration" in his health following the moon crash. Marov is one of the most respected physicists and astronomers in Russia.
Maroy said it was his "last hope" to see the spacecraft landing before he was mysteriously rushed to the hospital. He was a key consultant on the mission.
An academic grandee, Maroy had worked on previous space missions for the Soviet Union. He considered the Luna-25 mission as the culmination of his life's work.
In the 1950s, Russia was considered the leading force in space exploration. The country was the first to put the first satellite and first man into orbit during the Cold War.
However, Russia was quickly overtaken by the U.S. in the space race. The latter eventually sent a man to the moon in 1969.
Putin had personally ordered the Luna-25 launch. He was intent on reestablishing Russia as a leading scientific power and he had plans to exploit space. Yet Russia's unmanned spacecraft crashed on the surface of the moon after spinning out of control.
Before Marov was rushed to the hospital, he demanded no cover-up of the reasons for the failure. Marov's death and several others have raised questions about "endemic corruption in the space industry in Russia."
Many expect that Luna-25's failure would set off a blame game, starting with Putin firing those he thinks are responsible for the humiliating failure of the moon landing.
Marov, who was an ardent proponent of the moon mission, said in some reports that as its scientific director, he "was devastated over the failed landing." He also revealed that this was the reason for his sudden hospitalization in Moscow's elite Central Clinical Hospital (TsKB).
After demanding that the reasons for the failed landing be revealed to the public, he also said there "was a mistake in the algorithms for launching into near-lunar orbit." While he was hospitalized, Marov told reporters that he wanted Russia to "return to space and land on the moon."
Roscosmos claimed that the apparatus "moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the moon." The mission was the most ambitious space project of Putin’s almost 24 years as the de-facto leader of Russia.
Russia had not attempted a moon mission since Luna-24 in 1976.
Russian sources are questioning the future of Yuriy Borisov, a Putin-loyalist and ex-deputy premier now at the helm of Roscosmos. Borisov is accused of halting probes into corruption and misuse of budgets at the space agency.
Watch the video below to learn more about the Luna 25 space program.
This video is from the High Hopes channel on Brighteon.com.