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Communication Satellite Allows China To Beat Apollo Mission

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Advancement in communication satellite technology has made it possible for China’s lunar exploration program to probe the far side of the Moon, where the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo program did not reach, experts told Sputnik.

Advancement in communication satellite technology has made it possible for China’s lunar exploration program to probe the far side of the Moon, where the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo program did not reach, experts told Sputnik.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe decelerated and entered the lunar orbit on December 12, completing a vital step on its way to make the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement.

“Next, the control center will adjust the probe’s orbit around the moon and test the communication link between the probe and the relay satellite ‘Queqiao,’ which is operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system,” the CNSA said in the statement.

The Chinese lunar probe, including a lander and a rover, was launched on December 8 by a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The Chang’e-4 probe is expected to land on the far side of the moon in early January.

If the Chinese lunar probe lands on the far side of the Moon successfully, China will accomplish something that the NASA’s Apollo program, which brought the first human to the Moon, was not able to complete.

Space scientists suggested that advancement in communication satellite technology has played a key role in allowing China to attempt this breakthrough in lunar exploration.

“During Apollo, we talked about landing on the far side of the Moon, but we needed a communication satellite, but none was available.

China has launched a communications satellite to enable far side communications and landing.

It is a major step forward in enabling full access to all parts of the Moon,” James Head, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University who worked on the Apollo project at NASA and provided training for the Apollo astronauts, told Sputnik.

China launched a relay satellite, known as “Queqiao,” in May to facilitate communications between the lunar probe and the mission control center. Due to an effect is known as tidal locking, the Moon only shows the same side toward the Earth while its other side, known as the far side, is never visible to humans on Earth.

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