China’s relay satellite Queqiao-2 completes in-orbit communication tests

Queqiao-2 relay satellites separates from its carrier rocket Long March-8. /CMG

Queqiao-2 relay satellites separates from its carrier rocket Long March-8. /CMG

The Queqiao-2 satellite recently completed in-orbit communication tests, with its platform and payloads working normally, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Friday.

The functions and performance of Queqiao-2 meet mission requirements, and it can provide relay communication services for the fourth phase of China’s lunar exploration project and future lunar exploration missions of China and other countries, said the CNSA, announcing the Queqiao-2 mission a complete success.

Tiandu-2 satellite captures a moment where the moon and Earth are both can be seen, April 8, 2024. /CMG

Tiandu-2 satellite captures a moment where the moon and Earth are both can be seen, April 8, 2024. /CMG

Queqiao-2 was launched on March 20 and entered its target orbit on April 2 after a midway correction, near-moon braking and orbital maneuver around the moon.

The satellite successfully completed a communication test on April 6 with Chang’e-4, which is now carrying out an exploration mission on the far side of the moon. From April 8 to 9, it conducted communication tests with the Chang’e-6 probe.

The two satellites onboard along with the Queqiao-2, Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2 satellites, have entered the planned orbit and undergone a series of communication and navigation technology tests.

A Long March-8 rocket, carrying the relay satellite Queqiao-2 for Earth-Moon communications, blasts off at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province, March 20, 2024. /Xinhua

A Long March-8 rocket, carrying the relay satellite Queqiao-2 for Earth-Moon communications, blasts off at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province, March 20, 2024. /Xinhua

Both Queqiao-2 and Tiandu-1, Tiandu-2 satellites use the Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) around the moon as their mission orbit, which not only enhances the communication capability of Queqiao-2 significantly and increases satellites’ coverage over the lunar south pole region, but saves fuel for Queqiao-2 to be able to work extended time in the orbit thanks to the orbit’s stability.

(With input from Xinhua)