China successfully launched on Wednesday a satellite tasked with relaying communications between Earth and the Moon, a crucial component for the country's future exploration missions on the far side of the Moon, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A Long March-8 rocket carrying the satellite Queqiao-2 lifted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in southern China's Hainan Province. Its deployment is a key step for lunar exploration missions to be conducted by the unmanned probe Chang'e-6, which will be launched by the end of June, and its successors, Xinhua said.

Most of the Moon's far side cannot be seen from Earth, and no direct communication lines exist. The newly launched satellite is expected to become a vital communication link between Earth-based controllers and the far side of the Moon.

China's space program, led by its military, has succeeded in the first-ever landing of a probe on the far side of the Moon and completed its own space station. Beijing aims to realize a manned lunar landing by 2030.

Related coverage:

Japan's Furukawa, 3 other astronauts return to Earth after 6 months

Rocket launch by private Japanese firm Space One postponed

Japan's Moon explorer resumes communication after harsh lunar night