May 21, 2018 - World

China just launched a satellite to the far side of the moon

China launching a satellite.

China launching a satellite into space. Photo: Hao Wei/China News Service via Getty Images

The Queqiao relay satellite is on its way to orbit near the far side of the moon after China launched it on Monday morning, reports The satellite is a major component of China's mission to be the first country to explore the far side of the moon.

Why it matters: According to Axios science editor Andrew Freedman, China aims to explore the far side of the moon later this year. This new satellite is meant to provide a vital communications link between the eventual robotic assets on the lunar surface and controllers on Earth. The craft is also deploying a Dutch satellite to detect the weak radio signals from the early universe.

Editor's note: This post was updated to make clear that the relay satellite will be in position to transmit signals from a Chinese rover. The rover will attempt to land on the far side of the moon.

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