SCIENCE CHINA Information Sciences, Volume 61, Issue 4: 040305(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-017-9202-1

Design of communication relay mission for supporting lunar-farside soft landing

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  • ReceivedJun 8, 2017
  • AcceptedJul 3, 2017
  • PublishedDec 12, 2017


Chang'E-IV will be the first soft-landing and rover mission on the lunar farside. The relay satellite, which is located near the Earth-Moon L2 point for relay communication, is the key to the landing mission. Based on an analysis of the characteristics of the task and the technical difficulties associated with the relay satellite system, the overall design scheme of the relay communication mission is proposed in terms of trajectory design and communication system design among other aspects. First, according to the complex dynamic environment, a mission orbit that serves as an uninterrupted communication link is presented. A short-duration and low-energy transfer trajectory with lunar flyby is discussed. Orbital correction and a low-cost control strategy for orbit maintenance in the Earth-Moon L2 point region are provided. Second, considering the existing technical constraints, the requirement of relay communication in different stages and the design schemes of frequency division and redundant relay communication system are introduced. Finally, based on the trajectory design index and the performance of the communication system, the overall design scheme of the relay communication mission is proposed. This mission will provide the technical support and reference required for the Chang'E-IV mission.


This work was supported by National Science and Technology Major Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Lunar Exploration Program), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 11572038), and Chang Jiang Scholars Program.


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  • Figure 1

    (Color online) Geometric relationships of the Earth-Moon system, and distributions of libration points.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) Measurement and control of relay satellite and relay communication link.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Relay satellite located in Earth-Moon L2 halo orbit, and communications for lunar farside.

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) Orbital types near the libration point.

  • Figure 5

    Halo orbit in the region of Earth-Moon L2.

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) Direct transfer trajectory (LU: Earth-Moon distance).

  • Figure 7

    (Color online) Transfer trajectory with lunar flyby.

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Flight trajectory of low-energy transfer via Sun-Earth L2 point (AU: Sun-Earth distance).

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) Flight trajectory of low-energy transfer via Earth-Moon L1 point.

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) Flight trajectory of low-energy transfer in three-body system.

  • Figure 11

    (Color online) Flight sequence of lunar flyby transfer.

  • Figure 12

    Flight trajectory of relay satellite for three years on Earth-Moon halo orbit.

  • Figure 13

    (Color online) Expanded state of high-gain mesh parabolic antenna.

  • Figure 14

    (Color online) Configuration of relay satellite for launch state.

  • Figure 15

    (Color online) Configuration of relay satellite in orbit state.

  • Figure 16

    (Color online) Schematic flight diagram of relay satellite.

  • Table 1   Comparison and analysis of halo and Lissajous orbits
    Index Halo orbit Lissajous orbit
    Earth communication No Moon occlusion, Short-time disruption due to
    coverage condition always visible to the Earth lunar shadow
    Shadow condition Shadows caused by both Shadows caused by both
    the Earth and the Moon the Earth and the Moon
    Cost of orbit insertion Relatively high Relatively low
    Velocity increment of orbit maintenance Relatively small Relatively large
    Frequency of orbit maintenance Equivalent frequency Equivalent frequency
    Antenna beam angle Relatively small Comparatively large
    for Earth communication
    Angle variation range of Sun Relatively small Comparatively large
    relative to satellite $Y$-axis (shown in Figure 15)
  • Table 2   Comparisons of three types of transfer trajectories
    Velocity of perigee The time of flight Velocity increment Application
    when launching to the L2 point
    Direct transfer Short transfer time, About 900–1000 m/s Few application
    about 6–7 days
    Lunar flyby transfer About 10.9 km/s Relative short transfer time, About 200–300 m/s CE-5T in-orbit
    about 3–4 weeks verification
    Low-energy transfer Long transfer time, About 0–200 m/s Widely applied to
    from 1 month to 3 years exploration mission
  • Table 3   Deflection of trajectory in rotating frame
    Parameters Mean Standard deviation Maximum
    Position error in $X$ direction (km) $-$2387.330 9161.371 34610.423
    Position error in $Z$ direction (km) 1054.920 3725.730 12450.725
    Velocity error in $X$ direction (m/s) $-$23.539 78.788 335.301
    Velocity error in $Y$ direction (m/s) 4.984 23.778 88.371
    Velocity error in $Z$ direction (m/s) 4.714 18.489 58.695
    Cross-time error (min) 104.347 260.616 962.599
  • Table 4   Halo orbit maintenance for different amplitudes and frequencies
    Amplitude of halo orbit 9000 km 12000 km 15000 km
    maintenance frequency Half cycle One cycle Half cycle One cycle Half cycle One cycle
    Mean (m/s) 82.889 205.447 85.493 213.157 87.529 225.497
    Standard deviation (m/s) 8.653 29.145 8.513 35.692 8.004 37.244
    Maximum (m/s) 102.202 240.996 109.582 276.406 105.196 279.644

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