China To Launch Communications Relay Satellite, Could Beat Artemis To The Moon

NASA's Orion satellite during the Artemis 1 Mission in late 2022 captured the crater-ridden far side of the Moon. China plans to launch a relay satellite early in 2024 to enable communications with spacecraft located on the far side of the moon.

Queqiao 2 (Magpie Bridge 2) will launch in early 2024 and will support China's upcoming  Chang'e 6, 7 and 8 robotic mon missions.

Chang'e 6 aims to collect the very first samples ever from the farside of Moon that never faces Earth.

Queqiao 2 will be used for ping communication between teams on Earth, and the lander spacecraft at the far side of the moon. 

The new communication satellite will also play a similar supporting role for the 'Chang'e 7, and 'Chang'e 8 landing missions at the south pole of the moon scheduled for 2026-2028.

These missions will form the basis of a larger project known as the International Lunar Research Station, which is scheduled to be built in the 2030s.

Queqiao 2 is also launching with two small satellites that are experimental for navigation and communication. They will be called Tiandu 1, and Tiandu 2. The satellites are named after the main peak of Huangshan, a famous mountain in Anhui Province.