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China to launch Queqiao 2 Relay Satellite to boost lunar communication capabilities
A Queqiao series satellite in Lunar orbit.
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China to launch Queqiao 2 Relay Satellite to boost lunar communication capabilities
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 05, 2024

China is poised to take another significant step in its ambitious lunar exploration endeavors with the scheduled launch of the Queqiao 2 relay satellite in the first half of 2024. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) recently announced that the satellite has been transported to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, signaling the approach of a mission that will enhance communication between Earth and the moon's far side.

The Queqiao 2 satellite, also known as Magpie Bridge 2, is designed to facilitate uninterrupted communication links with the far side of the moon, a region that, until the advent of relay satellites, remained incommunicado with Earth due to the moon's bulk blocking direct signals. This mission builds on the success of its predecessor, Queqiao, which served the same critical role for the Chang'e 4 mission, marking humanity's first landing on the moon's less-explored hemisphere.

CNSA's announcement underscores the meticulous preparations underway, with pre-launch tests scheduled to proceed as planned at the Wenchang launch site. The readiness of the facilities and the smooth progression of preparatory work highlight China's commitment to maintaining its timeline for the launch, reflecting the robustness of the country's space exploration infrastructure.

The significance of Queqiao 2 extends beyond its role as a communications relay; it is set to be a cornerstone for the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration program. The satellite will provide essential communications services for a series of ambitious missions, including Chang'e 6, Chang'e 7, and Chang'e 8. These missions collectively aim to advance our understanding of the moon, including detailed investigations of its surface, subsurface, and potential resources, as well as preliminary steps towards establishing a sustainable human presence.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

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