Contact lost with China’s DSLWP-A1 lunar microsatellite
China has apparently lost contact with one of its two lunar radio astronomy microsatellites sent into space last week together with a communications relay spacecraft for Chang’e 4 lunar mission.
The two Discovering the Sky at Longest Wavelengths Pathfinder (DSLWP) satellites, designated DSLWP-A1 and DSLWP-A2 (nicknamed Longjiang-1 and Longjiang-2), piggybacked on the launch of the Queqiao communication relay satellite that took place on May 20, 2018. The trio lifted off atop a Long March 4C rocket from the the Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC) in China’s Sichuan Province.
Gbtimes.com reports that while Queqiao’s journey to the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrangian Point had passed flawlessly and DSLWP-A2 was successfully inserted into lunar orbit, the DSLWP-A1 microsatellite encountered problems during the flight. The site went on to state that there has been no communication between the ground stations and Longjiang-1 since May 21, following a trajectory correction maneuver after trans-lunar injection.
Amateur radio and satellite tracking enthusiasts are trying to re-establish contact with the lost satellite but all attempts to do so have been so far unsuccessful.
Chinese state-run media still remain silent about the fate of DSLWP-A1, as no updates on the status of the DSLWP-A duo are available.
DSLWP-A1 and DSLWP-A2 are two identical micro-satellites manufactured by the Harbin Institute of Technology, weighing approximately 99 pounds (45 kilograms) each. They are designed to conduct ultra-long-wave astronomical observations of the sky at frequencies between one megahertz and 30 megahertz from a lunar orbit at an altitude of 124 by 5,592 miles (200 by 9,000 kilometers).
Chinese scientists hope that DSLWP-A1 and A2 could provide insight into the nature of energetic phenomena from celestial sources. Additionally, the probes are also designed to be available for amateur radio tests.
Meanwhile, the Queqiao satellite is functioning normally from the L2 point some 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) directly “behind” Earth as viewed from the Sun, or some 37,000 miles (60,000 kilometers) beyond the far side of the Moon. The spacecraft is planned to set up a communication link between Earth and the planned Chang’e 4 lander and rover scheduled to be launched in December of 2018.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.