A Chinese relay satellite Friday braked near the Moon, completing a vital step before entering a desired orbit, according to the China National Space Administration.
The satellite, Queqiao, braked 100 km above the surface of the Moon in line with instructions from a ground control center in Beijing, and then entered a transfer orbit from the moon to the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system.
"There was only a short window for the braking," said Zhang Lihua, project manager of the mission. "And Queqiao had only one chance due to limited fuel."
The relay satellite was launched Monday to set up a communication link between Earth and the planned Chang'e-4 lunar probe that will explore the Moon's mysterious far side.
The satellite is expected to adjust orbit several times before it reaches a halo orbit around the L2 point, about 455,000 km from the Earth.
It will be the world's first communication satellite operating in that orbit.