The CNSA (China National Space Administration) had plans to launch a relay satellite as a part of the Chang’e 4 mission to the farthest side of the moon, of which the name was announced recently. The Queqiao meaning bridge of magpies is a name which is derived from a folktale of the country.
Along with the Queqiao, two microsatellites will also be launched in order to conduct scientific researchers. The Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2 are these satellites whose names were announced on 24th April, Tuesday. The announcement of the satellite names on this date is so special for the Chinese as this day marked the launch of the country’s first satellite into space in 1970. Since 2016, 24th April is being celebrated as Space Day.
The Queqiao and its March 4 rocket are currently in Xichang, Sichuan Province which is their launch site. The relay satellite is planned to be launched in May end. It will be placed on the Earth-moon Lagrange point L2’s halo orbit, which is gravitationally stable spot 450,000 kilometers away from Earth. This point will help the satellite to observe both the Earth and the farthest side of the moon.
China has plans to launch Chang’e 4 far-side rovers and lander in November. It will also be carrying payloads for countries like Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany. It has also been confirmed by CNSA’s deputy director that, they have plans to launch the Chang’e 5 lunar probe next year.
The mission of Chang’e 5 is designed to get lunar samples back to our planet. It was delayed from last year due to the failure of the booster of Long March 5 and the investigations which followed. The heavy rocket is needed to bring the return sample craft towards the moon. The mission of Chang’e 5 is considered to be very complex having four parts, an ascender, an orbiter, a returner and a lander.
Lunar samples will be collected and stashed in the ascender by the moon lander. After rocketing off the surface, the ascender will meet and dock with the orbiter after which it will pass on the collected material to the returner. The returner and the orbiter will head back to pour planet. They will get separated from each other some thousand kilometers away before reaching the Earth. And finally, the returner will also head back to the Earth’s surface.