Thursday, April 18, 2024

China Satellites Successfully Complete Earth-Moon Communications Tests

China Satellites Successfully Complete Earth-Moon Communications Tests

China's experimental satellites Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2 that accompanied the Queqiao-2 relay satellite to the Moon in March 2024, have conducted successful new experiments on lunar communication and navigation technologies, China's Deep Space Exploration Lab (DSEL) said on April 13, 2024.

The satellites carried out tests of high-reliability transmission and routing between Earth and the lunar surface. They also transmitted back the latest close-up images of the Moon.

The DSEL says the test satellites will conduct more experiments on lunar communication and navigation technologies, so as to provide strong support for design and construction of the planned International Lunar Research Station and China's own Queqiao integrated satellite network for lunar communication, navigation and remote sensing.

Tiandu-1, weighing 61 kilograms, is equipped with a Ka-band dual-frequency communicator, a laser retroreflector, and a space router.

Tiandu-2, weighing 15 kilograms, is fitted with communication and navigation devices.

China successfully launched the two test satellites along with the Queqiao-2 on March 20.

This orbital configuration provides several advantages over Queqiao, launched in 2018 for Earth-Moon relay communications.

Queqiao-2's orbit is closer to the Moon, greatly improving data transmission rates compared to Queqiao's distant path. It also enhances communication coverage of the lunar south pole region versus Queqiao's position around the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrangian point.

This optimized orbit is more fuel-efficient, allowing Queqiao-2 to maintain operations for an extended period using minimal propellant. Queqiao-2 will provide the relay services planned for ongoing lunar probes Chang'e-4 and the upcoming Chang'e-6 mission, conducting scientific exploration periodically.

The deployment of the Queqiao-2 relay satellite is a key step for China's future lunar exploration missions including Chang'e-6, Chang'e-7 and Chang'e-8.

The landing and sample collection sites for China's moon missions in the coming years are mainly in the lunar south pole region or on the far side of the moon. A more powerful relay satellite with more functions is necessary to provide communications and data transmission services for the missions, China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

Chang'e-6 is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2024, while Chang'e-7 will be launched around 2026, and Chang'e-8 around 2028. Chang'e-7 and Chang'e-8 will form the basic model of a lunar research station to carry out further exploration of the lunar environment, according to the CNSA.

Video Credit: CCTV Video News Agency

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Release Date: April 13, 2024

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