China on Monday announced the successful launch of a lunar communications relay satellite designed to support an unprecedented mission to put a lander and rover on the far side of the moon by late 2018.
The launch includes an optical camera developed by Saudi Arabia, as part of an agreement between King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology and the China National Space Administration.
The Chang’e-4 mission aims to provide a means of communications for setting down and operating a lunar lander and rover on the far side of the moon, a feat that has never been attempted.
The China-Saudi Lunar Exploration Cooperation Memorandum signed in 2017 aims to further strengthen the China-Saudi cooperation in the field of space.
Two microsatellites, Longjiang-1 and -2 (River Dragon-1 and -2), were also aboard the launch and will enter highly elliptical lunar orbits to perform their astronomy tasks.
The pair will also carry out amateur radio experiments, with one will also carrying the small optical camera developed by Saudi Arabia.