China is ready with its next satellite launch plan. The country is looking forward to launching a relay satellite called Queqiao to Lagrange point, the second Earth moon, on May 21. The Queqiao satellite is part of China’s Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the moon.
It is a notable and essential fact that Chang’e-4 is the backup to the earlier Chang’e-3 mission. In the year 2013, the Chang’e-3 mission has sent a rover and lander on Mare Imbrium. After achieving this unparalleled success, the Chang’e-4 lunar-craft has been prepared to land on the far side of the moon. The orbital duration of the moon does not let the lunar far side face the Earth. Hence, a relay satellite was needed for easier communication.
The Queqiao (of Chang’e-4 mission) satellite will be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The Xichang Satellite Launch Center is located in the southwest part of China. The 3-day launch window will open up on 21st May. The chief purpose of Queqiao satellite is to relay telecommands (from the ground) to the Chang’e-4 lunar spacecraft. It will also be helping in conveying data back to our planet. The satellite will be using S-band for transmitting data, and on the other hand, it will be utilizing x-band for establishing communication with rover and lander. Presently, the landing point for Queqiao satellite is supposed to be the Von Kármán crater.
Ian Crawford, the professor of planetary science and astrobiology at Birkbeck, University of London, stated that the launch of Queqiao satellite is quite exciting as it will happen for the first time that any spacecraft will be launching successfully on moon’s far side.
There is an interesting fact related to the Queqiao satellite. In fact, the name of this satellite is inspired from folklore tale. It is being told in the folklore tale that there were two lovers who reunited just once a year. They used to reunite when the Magpies created a bridge across the Milky Way. The word Queqiao means bridge of magpies. It is being expected that the Queqiao satellite will be orbiting far beyond the moon at the Lagrange point about 65,000 kilometers. Interestingly, the launch of two microsatellites will also take place along with the start of the Queqiao satellite. These two microsatellites will provide help and support in doing scientific research. The names of two microsatellites that will be launched with Queqiao satellite are “Longjiang-1” and “Longjiang-2.