Asian Space Race: China to Launch First Satellite for Pakistan

In a move, dripping with political motivations, China has agreed to launch a Pakistan satellite for the first time ever. This marks a landmark and a new beginningin China-Pakistan relations. The news was reported by China’s Xinhua news agency.

The existing Pakistani satellite, PAKSAT-1 was acquired by Pakistan after Indonesia gave up on it due to power problems.

The new satellite

The new satellite, PAKSAT-1R, is expected to be a communication satellite. According to Xinhua, the satellite will be used for a large number of purposes, like weather monitoring, high-power communication and, crucially, strategic defence purposes. It was built by Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco). (PAKSAT-1R page here). Much of the construction of the satellite was done by engineers from China. Xinhua did not provide a date for the launch, though, saying that it will be launched at an Appropriate Time.

PAKSAT-1R prototype

A new landmark in co-operation

Pakistan welcomed China’s support to its space program, saying that this would take Sino-Pak relations to greater heights. Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing, Masood Khan described said that this establishes a new platform, and it marks a new beginning. He hinted that this was just the beginning of a long collaborative effort

As we accomplished this goal of launching PAKSAT-1R, we will swiftly move on to expand our collaboration with China in related fields of space science and technology.

So far, Pakistan’s space agency is a fledgling body and its forays into space miniscule in scale compared with those of its neighbours like India and China. However, it wants to expand its indigenous capabilities on satellite design with China’s help. The not-so-secret aspiration of Pakistan’s is to match up with India’s capabilities as soon as it can, but it has a long way to go.

India hasn’t reacted to this news as yet.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.