China just launched a spacecraft that will help pave the way for a historic mission to the moon's far side later this year.
The Queqiao relay satellite lifted off atop a Long March 4C rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province today (May 20) at 5:28 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT; 5:28 a.m. on May 21 local Xichang time).
Queqiao is now its way to the Earth-moon Lagrange point-2, a gravitationally stable spot about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the lunar far side. The satellite will set up shop there and wait for China's robotic Chang'e 4 lander-rover spacecraft, which is expected to launch in November or December
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In this photo, a Long March 4C rocket carrying the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite is launched from southwest China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Monday. (Cai Yang/Xinhua via AP)