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COSPAR ID: 2018-045A


Queqiao will be the communications relay satellite for the Chang'e 4 lunar farside mission. It launched on 21 May at 5:28 a.m. local time (20 May 21:28 UT, 20 May 5:28 p.m. EDT) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China, on a Long March 4 into a halo orbit about the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange point. From that position, it will enable communications between the Chang'e 4 lander on the lunar farside and the Earth. Launching with Queqiao will be two scientific microsatellites, Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2.

In addition to its communication relay equipment, Queqiao will also carry the Netherlands-China Low Frequency Explorer (NCLE), a radio-astronomy experiment designed to measure radio emissions back to the early universe, study space weather, and observe the radio environment in the vicinity of the Earth and Moon. NLCE is described as a pathfinder experiment, experience with its operation and data is planned to be used to aid in the development of future radio astronomy instruments.

The Longjiang-1 and -2 microsatellites will also carry radio astronomy instrumentation. The microsatellites were developed by the Harbin Institute of Technology.

Queqiao means "Bridge of Magpies" referring to a Chinese folktale about magpies forming a bridge with their wings to allow Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to reach her husband. Longjiang means "dragon river".

Alternate Names

  • 43470

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2018-05-20
Launch Vehicle: Long March 4
Launch Site: Xichang, Peoples Republic of China

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

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

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