HELSINKI, Finland — The relay satellite which will facilitate China’s Chang’e-4 lunar far side landing mission late in 2018 has entered its intended halo orbit around Earth-Moon Lagrange point 2.
The Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center (BACC) sent commands for the spacecraft to fire its engines at 11:00 p.m. EDT June 13, with the burn complete at 11:06 p.m.
The satellite will now undergo on-orbit testing of its communications functions, while maintaining a complex Lissajous orbit, which is a three-dimensional irregular curve, rather than a two-dimensional halo.
The relay satellite was launched from Xichang, southwest China, on May 20, and performed a braking maneuver May 25 when passing within 100 kilometers of the lunar surface, sending it on a trajectory towards the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point, some 65,000-80,000 kilometers beyond the moon.
The relay satellite is a precursor mission to the launch of the Chang’e-4 lander and rover, which will attempt to land in the vicinity of the Von Kármán crater within the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the lunar far side around November or December. No such mission has been attempted before.
As the lunar far side at no time faces the Earth, due to the moon’s orbital period ...