China takes a critical first step toward landing on the far side of the Moon

China takes a critical first step toward landing on the far side of the Moon

Enlarge / The far side of the Moon. No robotic spacecraft has ever made a smooth landing right here.


China’s house company has taken a critical first step toward an unprecedented robotic landing on the far side of the Moon. On Monday, native time, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation launched a Long March 4C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Although it didn’t broadcast the launch, the Chinese house company mentioned it went easily, according to the state information service Xinhua.

“The launch is a key step for China to realize its goal of being the first country to send a probe to soft-land on and rove the far side of the Moon,” Zhang Lihua, supervisor of the relay satellite tv for pc undertaking, advised Xinhua.

About 25 minutes after the launch, the Queqiao spacecraft separated from the rocket’s higher stage, and commenced a journey toward a halo orbit of the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point L2. Over the subsequent six months, the 425kg spacecraft will endure exams to make sure it should perform correctly as a communications relay.

If so, China will then try and launch the Chang’e four spacecraft late this yr, which is able to attempt to make an unprecedented smooth landing on the far side of the Moon. This mission can even embrace a rover to undertake scientific excursions.

However, as a result of the far side of the Moon is the far side, a lander and rover there can not have a direct line of sight for communications with Earth. Hence the want for the relay spacecraft at L2, which may seize knowledge from the Chang’e four lander and ship it again to Earth. The relay spacecraft will use S-band and X-band frequencies to speak.

Of word, the Queqiao spacecraft—which implies Magpie bridge and is a reference to Chinese folklore—can even carry two scientific devices. One is a Dutch radio antenna, which is able to examine celestial radio frequencies blocked by Earth’s environment. The different instrument is a large-aperture laser angle reflector for ranging measurements between Earth and the spacecraft.

The relay spacecraft ought to attain its L2 halo orbit in about eight days.

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