China launches Chang’e 4 coms relay satellite Queqiao to Earth-Moon L2

by | May 21, 2018 | China, exploration, Launches, Satellites, Science, Seradata News

China has launched a new lunar satellite called Queqiao. This is no scientific probe or lunar rover, however. Instead it is a lunar communications relay satellite that will be used to relay data from future lunar exploration missions, including those to the far side of the moon as communication “through the Moon” is impossible. The first mission ever to land on the lunar far side will be the Chinese Chang’e 4 lander and rover, due to be launched later this year.

Lift-off of the Long March 4C from the Xichang satellite launch centre in Sichuan Province took place at 2100 GMT on 20 May 2018. The satellite was sent on a translunar trajectory, which, after some more manoeuvres, will result in the relay satellite being set into a halo orbit around the Earth-Moon Lagrangian gravitational balance position L2, about 64,000km beyond the Moon.

Launch of the Chang’e-4 relay satellite Queqiao on a Long March 4C. Courtesy: Xinhua

The 435kg Queqiao will also carry an astronomy experiment called the Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer that will try to detect radio signals from the begining of Universe. The craft will also monitor solar wind in the lunar vicinity. The name Queqiao means bridge of magpies.

Aboard the launch were two 45kg Longjiang (meaning dragon river), aka Discovering the Sky, Longest Wavelengths Pathfinder (DSWPL) satellites built by Harbin Institute of Technology. They are identical except that the second spacecraft carries an additional miniature optical camera built by King Abdullah Aziz Technology City (KACST). While Longjiang 1 was successfully deployed into a translunar orbit, its transmissions ceased on 21 May.  Nevertheless the dead satellite went onto to pass the Moon on 25 May having failed to make lunar insertion burn.  Longjiang 2 was more fortunate and entered lunar orbit on 25 May.

 

 

 

 

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

First Ariane 5 launch of 2022: MEASAT 3D and GSAT-24 successfully deployed

At 2150 GMT on 22 June 2022, two communications satellites MEASAT 3D and GSAT-24 were successfully launched on the first Read more

Isar Aerospace’s Spectrum rocket is booked to launch D-Orbit ION…as Evolution Space signs its first major launch customer

The Italian firm D-Orbit's ION Satellite Carrier orbital transfer and delivery vehicle has had a ride booked for it on Read more

Kuaizhou-1A launches from Jiuquan carrying mysterious Tianxing-1 satellite

A Kuaizhou-1A small solid rocket launch vehicle was launched from the Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi Desert, Northern China, Read more

Attempt to raise ISS orbit with Cygnus NG-17 fails

At 1520 GMT on 20 June an attempt to raise the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) using a Read more

South Korea successfully completes second test flight of Nuri rocket

At 0700 GMT, 21 June, the Nuri (KSLV-II) launch vehicle lifted-off from the Naro Space Center, South Korea. This success Read more

Space Launches: Three up in less than three days for Space X Falcon 9…but one is a mystery

In a flurry of activity, SpaceX performed three separate Falcon 9 launches in less than three days. At 1609 GMT Read more

Seven satellites trapped on Vigoride-3 (VR-3) after power fault

The Momentus Space Vigoride-3 (VR-3) satellite delivery spacecraft has reportedly failed to release seven of its nine satellite payloads, following Read more

Another Astra rocket failure: this time two NASA TROPICS hurricane monitoring satellites are lost

After a launch attempt two hours earlier was held up due to a problem with the Liquid Oxygen storage/conditioning,  Astra Read more

Categories

Archives