China’s satellite to explore Moon’s dark side successfully brakes for entry into orbit | science | Hindustan Times
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China’s satellite to explore Moon’s dark side successfully brakes for entry into orbit

Queqiao, the 400-kg satellite which has a designed life of three years, was launched on Monday to enable a rover to communicate with the Earth from the Moon’s mysterious far side, as part of the Communist giant’s ambitious goal of being the first country to send such a probe.

science Updated: May 26, 2018 11:53 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Beijing
Queqiao,China,Moon's dark side
In this photo provided by China's official Xinhua News Agency, a Long March-4C rocket carrying a relay satellite, named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge), is launched from southwest China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center, on May 21, 2018. (AP)

China’s relay satellite, on an ambitious lunar exploration mission, has successfully braked near the Moon, completing a vital step before entering a desired orbit, space officials said today.

Queqiao, the 400-kg satellite which has a designed life of three years, was launched on Monday to enable a rover to communicate with the Earth from the Moon’s mysterious far side, as part of the Communist giant’s ambitious goal of being the first country to send such a probe.

It braked 100 km above the surface of the Moon in line with instructions from a ground control centre in Beijing, and then entered a transfer orbit from the moon to the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system, the China National Space Administration said.

“There was only a short window for the braking. And Queqiao had only one chance due to limited fuel,” Zhang Lihua, project manager of the mission was quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.

The relay satellite was launched on Monday to set up a communication link between the Earth and the planned Chang’e-4 lunar probe that will explore the Moon’s mysterious far side.

The satellite is expected to adjust orbit several times before it reaches a halo orbit around the L2 point, about 455,000 km from the Earth.

It will be the world’s first communication satellite operating in that orbit, the report said.