TECH China to launch Queqiao-2 relay satellite for lunar missions in 2024


China to launch Queqiao-2 relay satellite for lunar missions in 2024


14:17, January 17, 2023

The Chang'e-4 lunar lander captured by Yutu-2's panoramic camera, January 11, 2019. /CNSA

China plans to launch a Queqiao-2 satellite in 2024 to provide relay communication services for Chang'e-6, 7 and 8 lunar missions, according to China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Wang Qiong, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e-6 mission, told China Media Group (CMG) that the Chang'e-6 probe, which serves as a backup for the Chang'e-5 probe, is planned to undertake a lunar sample collection mission on the far side of the moon from 2024 to 2025.

Since direct communication with the far side of the moon is not possible, Chang'e-6 will need a relay satellite to support its work. So China will launch the Queqiao-2 in 2024 for the lunar mission, said Hu Hao, chief designer of the third phase of China's lunar exploration project and also chief designer of Chang'e-6.

Compared with Chang'e-4 relay satellite Queqiao, the Queqiao-2 will have a greater improvement in overall level and capability, Hu added.

A model of the Chang'e-5 probe on display at the booth of "Lunar Exploration Project" at the 13th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province, September 27, 2021. /CFP

The designed lifespan of Queqiao is about to end, and China plans to launch Queqiao-2 in 2024 before the Chang'e-6 mission for the country's phase-4 lunar mission, serving Chang'e-6, 7 and 8, Wang added.

Launched in 2022, the phase-4 lunar mission will conduct scientific exploration at the lunar south pole to facilitate the construction of a basic structure for the International Lunar Research Station in the area by 2035.

Wang further said that the goal of Chang'e-6 is to make technological breakthroughs in retrograde orbit design, intelligent sampling, take-off and ascent as well as automatic sampling and return from the moon's backside, besides carrying out effective international cooperation.

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