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Queqiao-2 (Magpie Bridge 2) is a relay satellite designed to go into lunar orbit and support communications with the current Chang'e-4 mission and the future Chang'e-6, -7, and -8 missions. It launched on a Long March 8 rocket from Wenchang, China on March 20 at 00:31 UT (8:31 a.m. Beijing Time), with a planned lifetime of over 8 years. It is planned to initially go into a 24 hour inclined elliptical orbit, and then lower to a 12 hour, 300 x 8600 km altitude orbit with an inclination of 54.8 degrees for Chang'e-7 and -8.

The satellite is a larger version of the first Queqiao relay satellite, based on the CAST 2000 bus, with a mass of 1200 kg. It has a 4.2 meter diameter parabolic dish antenna for communication with the landed missions in X band and UHF, and a 0.6 meter parabolic antenna for communication with ground stations in the S and Ka bands. Power (greater than 1350 W) is provided by a solar array and a 135 Ahr battery. Propulsion is provided by eight 20 N thrusters for orbit control, eight 5 N and four 1 N thrusters for three-axis stabilized attitude control. A 606L tank carries 488 kg of hydrazine propellant.

Queqiao 2 carries three science payloads: an Extreme Ultraviolet Camera (EUC), a Grid-based Energetic Neutral Atom imager (GENA), and a very long baseline interferometer, the Lunar Orbit VLBI EXperiment (LOVEX). A payload manager, comprising a power supply and distribution unit, data processing unit, EUC unit, and computer, controls the science payload. The mission will also be deploying two experimental CubeSats, Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2, which will orbit the Moon to test navigation and communication technologies.

Tiandu-1 and -2

Tiandu-1 has a Ka-band communications system and a laser retroreflector. It has a mass of 61 kg. Tiandu-2, the smaller of the two cubesats with a mass of 15 kg, also has a communications system. The two satellites will be in formation in an elliptical lunar orbit, navigation tests include laser ranging to the Moon, and microwave ranging between satellites.

Image credit: CNSA

Alternate Names

  • Magpie Bridge 2
  • Queqiao2

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2024-03-20
Launch Vehicle: Long March 8
Launch Site: Wenchang, Peoples Republic of China
Mass: 1200 kg
Nominal Power: 1350 W

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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