China has successfully launched the Queqiao relay satellite aboard a Long March 4C rocket. The relay satellite will enable operators to communicate with the country’s Chang’e-4 moon lander that is scheduled to launch later this year.
The Long March 4C was launched from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 21:28 UTC on Sunday (05:28 local time on May 21). Follow its separation from the rocket’s upper stage, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed that the satellite had been successfully inserted into a lunar transfer orbit.
Chang’e-4 is an ambitious lunar lander and rover mission that will touch down on the far side of the moon. Direct communication with operators on Earth will be impossible and, as a result, the success of Chang’e-4 hinges on China first being able to position the Queqiao relay satellite. The satellite is currently in a cost phase on its way to the moon.
As has been commonplace following launches from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, a spent Long March 4C stage was captured falling back to Earth impacting mere kilometers from inhabited areas in Jiangkou County, Guizhou province. Luckily, it has been confirmed that there were no casualties and no property damage.
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) May 22, 2018
Featured image credit: CNS