China launches satellite ahead of the Chang’e-4 moon mission

The launch of China’s lunar rover will happen soon. This mission is the first time a country is landing on the far side of the moon which is not visible from earth. China announced its ambition to embark on this mission in the year 2015. The country launched a relay satellite at the far side of the moon hoping to set up communication on Monday, May 21, 2018. 

The Chinese launch vehicle, Long March 4C carried the satellite at a liftoff time of 5:30 pm ET on Sunday. The name of the satellite is Queqiao which is the Chinese interpretation for Magpie bridge. The Magpie bridge arises from a Chinese folktale. According to the folktale, magpies use their wing to form a bridge on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The bridge provides a path for the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, Zhi Nu, to cross over to visit her husband who is separated from her by the Milky Way. 

The satellite separated from the launch rocket twenty-five minutes after it lifted off from the Xichang Launch Center in the Sichuan province.

The moon shows only one face to the earth since it is locked to earth. The other side where China is planning to launch will need a relay satellite to send messages to earth. Queqiao will settle at a stable location that is 40000 miles after the far side of the moon. 

Preparations are also underway for the launch of the Chang’e-4 rover that will explore the far side of the moon. They expect to launch the rover this year. 

China’s Chang’e mission began in 2007, and they have recorded successes in their previous launches. The first rover launched in 2007, and it launched into the lunar orbit. This rover was called Chang’e-1. The Chang’e-2 rover also launched in 2010. This rover also launched into lunar orbit. 

They embarked on another mission in the year 2013, and this time, the Chang’e-3 rover launched at the near side of the moon. The country has plans beyond the launch of the Chang’e-4 rover. They are hoping to launch a Chang’e-5 rover in 2019. 

China is aiming to send people to the moon by 2030. The current mission faces many potential challenges, and the country hopes to deal with these challenges well. According to the project manager, Zhang, they would have to make adjustments to enable the satellite to reach its final orbit. They also have issues with the satellite braking near the moon.