At 5.28am on Monday, the Queqiao relay satellite was launched from Sichuan province, according to Chinese state media. With Queqiao in place, China will be able to send a lunar probe to the side of the moon that never faces the Earth. No space programme has ever reached that part of the lunar surface because of communications difficulties. In a few days Queqiao – which means ‘Magpie Bridge’ – will enter the moon’s orbit, about 455,000km (282,000 miles) from Earth.

China aims to land on dark side of moon via launch of ‘Magpie Bridge’ satellite

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