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China plans a constellation of communications/GPS-type satellites around Moon

The new colonial movement: According to a statement by one Chinese official on April 24th, China now plans to launch a constellation of communications/GPS-type satellites that will orbit the Moon and provide support for its unmanned and manned missions to the surface.

China will take the lead in demonstrating a small, lunar relay communication and navigation system, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told Chinese media on April 24. The first launch for the small constellation could take place in 2023 or 2024, according to Wu, who added that countries around the world are welcome to jointly build it.

That first launch will likely be a relay satellite to support the first unmanned landers/rovers targeting the lunar south pole. It will also likely be the first of several satellites designed to provide service long term for China’s planned manned lunar base, what it has dubbed the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). Though announced as a project partnered with Russia, expect a large bulk of the work to be done by China.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    Will make targeted landings a lot easier.

    Will be interesting to see people reaction when they beat us to the moon, and say, “This is our, go find your own Moon”.

  • pawn



    You are correct. I mentioned this in an earlier post a while ago.

    Since a lot of effort is going to be in prospecting for water and other recourses, being able to accurately map the locations for later access is critical.

    Say you are a little robot in the bottom of a big crater. The only way to figure out where you are in real-time now is using celestial nav. The Moon doesn’t rotate as rapidly as the Earth so there’s a lot more error in the location solution. Since fuel is going to be a big issue, best to know exactly where you are and are headed to avoid excess fuel consumption searching around.

  • sippin_bourbon


    Do they use celestial nav for something as slow as a rover on the moon? I would think it would be near pointless on the near side, and that dead reckoning would be better.

    The STELLA system the Navy developed years ago was accurate to an arc sec, or about 30 meters, which is more than enough on the Earth when in open sea. But for terrestrial that is not near enough. Dead reckoning, and a form of pilotage, or basic Land Nav would be sufficient.

    The Moon is mapped pretty well by the LRO to a pretty good resolution.

    Of all the corrections , Celestial, I cannot think of any that would be a problem for a slower rotation. If anything, being above the atmosphere, being computerized and access to more stars, there would be less error. And instead of using the upper or lower limb of the moon, they would be using the Earth.

  • pawn


    Thanks for the info. I’ll check it out.

    Having a map of where you are doesn’t help much in telling you where you are on the map unless you started out at some reference point and measured distance and heading. Compass won’t work.

    I retract the comment about the apparent motion but I am pretty sure that it will affect the resolution so you might need a better clock that you would need on Earth for the same accuracy.

  • pawn

    Nah, I’m completely wrong on this. Never mind.

  • Star Bird

    China wants to Mine or Colonize the Moon and spread communism to other worlds

  • sippin_bourbon


    All good. Made me break out my copy of Bowditch, and refresh a few things in my head.
    However, if you are familiar with it, you always have an assumed point (read as assumed location) when working in Celestial Nav.

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