Islamabad Pakistan will send a human to space for the first time in 2022 with China’s help, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced Thursday, the same year India plans to launch its manned space mission.
Pakistan’s first space mission has been planned for 2022 and the federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the plan on Thursday, ahead of his maiden visit to Beijing from November 3.
An agreement between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and a Chinese company has already been signed, Chaudhry said.
In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ambitious mission of sending an Indian astronaut to space by 2022, which would make India the fourth nation in the world to do so.
“We have resolved that by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of Independence or maybe even before that, certainly some of our young boys and girls will unfurl the Tricolour in space,” Modi said from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 72nd Independence Day.
Pakistan and China already have robust defence ties and Islamabad is one of the top buyers of Chinese military hardware.
Earlier this year, Pakistan launched two indigenously built satellites into orbit, using a Chinese launch vehicle.
The satellites were launched onboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, China.
One of the satellites launched was a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1) – a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite.
The second test satellite launched was a PAK-TES-1A, developed by Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (Suparco) to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country which would help end Pakistan’s dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture.
The satellites were transported to China as Pakistan lacks the infrastructure to launch objects, the Express Tribune quoted an official as saying.
China launched its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming the third country in the world to independently develop manned spaceflight, after Russia and the United States.
Prime Minister Khan is embarking on his first visit to China on November 3 and will hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, Geo News quoted the Foreign Office as saying.
During the visit the two sides will review the entire range of bilateral relations which have enjoyed a long history of mutual trust and mutual support. The two sides will also sign several agreements in diverse fields, the Foreign Office statement added.
This will be the premier’s first official visit to China after assuming office in August.
The visit signifies the closeness and traditional warmth which characterises Pakistan-China all weather strategic cooperative partnership, the statement added.
After his visit to Beijing, Khan will visit Shanghai to participate in First China International Import Expo in Shanghai. The premier will be a key note speaker at the inauguration of the expo.
He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.