BEIJING — China will give a name to the relay satellite for the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, which is expected to land softly on the far side of the Moon in late 2018.
The name will be announced on China’s Space Day on April 24, marking the day the country’s first satellite was sent into space in 1970, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Together with the relay satellite, two microsatellites, developed by the Harbin Institute of Technology, will also be sent into orbit to conduct scientific research. The names of the two microsatellites will also be announced on April 24.
The development of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe is progressing well, said Li Guoping, a spokesman of CNSA.
The Chang’e-4 probe will also carry scientific payloads developed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Saudi Arabia.
Tidal forces of the Earth have slowed the Moon’s rotation to the point where the same side always faces Earth. The other face, most of which is never visible from Earth, is the far side of the Moon.
With its special environment and complex geological history, the far side is a hot spot for scientific and space exploration. However, landing and roving there require a relay satellite to transmit signals.
According to previous reports, China plans to send the relay satellite to the halo orbit of the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point L2 in late May or early June 2018, and then launch the Chang’e-4 lunar lander and rover to the Aitken Basin of the south pole region of the Moon about half a year later.