China tries to save a “stuck” lunar mission

China is trying to rescue a pair of satellites. They were supposed to go to the Moon, but got stuck in an intermediate orbit due to a rocket failure. This is evidenced by satellite monitoring data.

The far side of the Moon and the Earth through the eyes of the Chang’e-5 T1 spacecraft. Source: CNSA, Xinhuanet

On March 13, China launched DRO-A and DRO-B, a pair of experimental spacecrafts designed to test the technologies necessary to create a navigation and communication infrastructure that will support future lunar missions, including manned ones. 

It was assumed that DRO-A and DRO-B would be launched into a long retrograde orbit around the Moon. However, this did not happen. Due to a malfunction in the upper stage of a Long March 2C rocket, they remained in an intermediate orbit with a perigee height of 525 km and an apogee height of 132,577 km. 

But it seems that the end has not yet been set in the history of this mission. Apparently, the satellites separated from the upper stage, after which experts used their engines to raise the orbit. According to space monitoring data, on March 26, the height of its perigee increased to 971 km, and its apogee to 225,193 km. It is possible that when the satellites pass the next perigee, they will reactivate their engines. This will allow them to raise their orbit even more.

It is worth noting that so far, the officials of the Celestial Empire have not commented on these maneuvers or provided any details about the mission’s objectives. At the moment, it is unknown whether one or two satellites are raising their orbit. It is also unknown how much the unplanned use of fuel to lift the orbit will affect the subsequent course of the mission.

Recall that China also recently launched its new relay satellite to the Moon.

According to

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