Tiandu
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
OperatorDeep Space Exploration Laboratory
CNSA
Mission duration16 days (in progress)
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftTiandu
ManufacturerDeep Space Exploration Laboratory
Start of mission
Launch date20 March 2024, 00:31 UTC[1]
RocketLong March 8[2]
Launch siteWenchang Space Launch Site LC-2[3]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric elliptic orbit
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertion24 March 2024, 17:43 UTC[4]
 

Tiandu satellites are a pair of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program's lunar navigation and communications test satellites based on Queqiao-2 relay satellite technology.[5][6][7][8]

Design and development

Tiandu satellites will perform navigation and communications technology verification experiments while flying in formation in lunar orbit. Satellite-to-ground laser ranging as well as intersatellite microwave ranging techniques will also be tested.[5][9]

The Tiandu satellites' mission is to inform the design of China's proposed Queqiao lunar navigation and communication array. Supporting services for lunar surface operations would be provided by such system. Line-of-sight communications limits affect uncrewed and crewed operations on the Moon, especially at the lunar south pole, an area of great interest, or the lunar far side.[5][6][10]

The 61 kg (134 lb) Tiandu-1 carries a Ka dual-band integrated communication payload, a laser retroreflector, a space router and other payloads. The 15 kg (33 lb) Tiandu-2 carries a communication payload and navigation devices.[5][6][11]

Mission

The mission was launched together as a single probe with Queqiao 2 in 2024 on a Long March 8 rocket.[5][12]

After launch, the two satellites (while being attached to each other) underwent lunar orbit insertion on 24 March 2024 at 17:43 UTC and entered a large elliptical orbit around the Moon.[13] In that large elliptical orbit around the Moon, they separated on 3 April 2024[14] and later satellite-to-ground laser ranging are inter-satellite microwave ranging are to be carried out by these satellites via high-precision lunar orbit determination technology.[6][15][16]

References

  1. ^ "China launches Queqiao-2 relay satellite to support moon missions". Space.com. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  2. ^ "China launches Queqiao-2 relay satellite to support moon missions". Space.com. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  3. ^ "China launches Queqiao-2 relay satellite to support moon missions". Space.com. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  4. ^ Jones, Andrew (2024-03-25). "China's Queqiao-2 relay satellite enters lunar orbit". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2024-03-26.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Tiandu 1, 2". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  6. ^ a b c d Jones, Andrew (10 May 2023). "China to launch communications relay satellite to the moon in early 2024". Space.com.
  7. ^ published, Andrew Jones (2023-05-09). "China to launch communications relay satellite to the moon in early 2024". Space.com. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  8. ^ "MSN". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  9. ^ "Testing, testing … China to test new satellite tech for Chang'e 6 lunar mission". South China Morning Post. 2024-02-04. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  10. ^ Litvinov, Nikita (2024-02-08). "China will launch experimental satellites to the Moon". Журнал The Universemagazine Space Tech. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  11. ^ 郭凯. "China set to launch two experimental satellites". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  12. ^ "China launches Queqiao-2 as key relay communication platform for future lunar missions - China Military". eng.chinamil.com.cn. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  13. ^ Jones, Andrew (2024-03-25). "China's Queqiao-2 relay satellite enters lunar orbit". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2024-03-26.
  14. ^ "探月工程里程碑:天都二号卫星成功应用冷气微推进系统". Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Retrieved 2024-04-04.
  15. ^ "我国将发射"天都一号""天都二号"探月卫星-新华网". www.news.cn. Retrieved 2024-03-20.
  16. ^ published, Andrew Jones (2022-03-31). "China has big plans for its new Tiandu space exploration laboratory". Space.com. Retrieved 2024-03-23.