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Wikipedia says direct communication is not possible from the far side of the moon. So I'm guessing it should be possible for the satellite to communicate directly without relay satellite from the near side of the moon.

From Wikipedia's Queqiao relay satellite:

Direct communication with Earth is impossible on the far side of the Moon, since transmissions are blocked by the Moon. Communications must go through a communications relay satellite, which is placed at a location that has a clear view of both the landing site and the Earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ slightly related: Has the Curiosity rover ever communicated directly with Earth via its high-gain antenna? Signal strength & data rate? It turns out that once in a while a rover on Mars can even talk directly with the Earth, but it's difficult and has a small bandwidth. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ Continuos direct communication to the rover is possible but indirect communication using a relay satellite is reduced to the phases when the satellite is visible to the rover as well as a ground station on Earth. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 12:02

2 Answers 2

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Yes, from the near side of the Moon's surface you can communicate directly with Earth. This was done during e.g. the Ranger, Surveyor, Apollo, Luna and Lunokhod programs (basically all Moon landers).

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Due to the tidal locking a landed object on the near side of the moon sees the Earth stay almost stationary in the sky. This means that slow but reliable antenna pointing methods such as scanning slowly for peak signal or using a camera to find big blue sphere work well enough.

If using a satellite to transfer the data you could decrease the gain needed at the lander for a slight weight advantage, but it then needs to find and track the moving satellite, and can only communicate when that satellite has line of sight.

So far it has been simpler to talk directly to lunar probes from Earth as described in Hobbes answer than establish a network of relay satellites.

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