China’s relay satellite “Queqiao-2” has successfully reached its planned orbit around the moon. After a travel time of around 112 hours, the satellite initiated the braking maneuver and is now flying at a distance of around 440 kilometers from the lunar surface, the Chinese space agency CNSA announced in Beijing on Monday. “Queqiao-2” set off from the spaceport on the southern Chinese island of Hainan last Wednesday. The satellite, whose name means bridge of magpies according to a Chinese folk tale, is intended to ensure communications for the upcoming lunar mission “Chang’e-6”.

The mission is expected to start in May towards Earth’s satellite. With “Chang’e-6”, China wants to collect soil samples in the south on the far side of the moon, among other things. Without Queqiao-2, the control center would not be able to send signals there from Earth. The satellite is therefore an important node in the communications triangle. China has been aggressively pushing forward its space program for some time. In the race of various spacefaring nations to the moon, the People’s Republic wants to create the first manned lunar mission with “Chang’e-8” by 2030.