A Chinese Lunar exploration mission got into operation as China in a successful bid launched Relay Satellite for a communication setup between earth and Moon. The Lunar exploration mission is all about exploring the far side of the moon which is still mysterious to a large extent. The Queqiao has a life of three years and weighs around 400 kilograms. A Long March 4C rocket, lofted by the satellite will facilitate the communication between the controllers here on earth and Chang’e 4 mission. With this latest launch, China is hoping to claim the first spot to have successfully conduct a soft launch on the far side of the Moon.
The Xinchang Satellite Launch Centre conducted the launching operation. Approximately twenty-five minutes after the lift-off, the rocket separated from the satellite, thereby entering the Earth-moon transfer orbit with an apogee of 400,000 kilometers. The communication antennas, as well as the solar panels, were reportedly unfolded. The satellite is going to enter the Halo orbit just around the Lagrangian point of Earth and moon system which is about 455,000 kilometers away from the earth. The Queqiao will be the first communication satellite to be operating in that orbit.
The Queqiao satellite also known as the Magpie Bridge is laden with numerous antennas and features one of the largest communication antenna resembling the shape of an umbrella with a diameter of five meters. This is the biggest antenna that has been used by far for any of the space exploration projects. The satellite and its placement in orbit has an operational advantage of less fuel consumption due to gravitational pull that exists at that point. The satellite is named Magpie in reference to a Chinese folktale.
The satellite has been launched to empower the hope of a strong communication bridge with the Chang’e 4 lunar probes which is also expected to make a touchdown later in this year. The tidal forces from the earth have halted the speed of Moon’s rotation to a great extent the side of the moon facing the earth stays same. The phenomenon is called the “Tidal Locking.” The other side of the moon is not visible from the earth, and the curiosity of what lies beyond is driving force of this satellite. The invisible side of the moon has been a hot topic for space exploration and has a great research potential.