SUPARCO’s Latest Triumph: Pioneering Achievements And The Launch Of Pakistan’s Newest Satellite – OpEd


In a moment of national elation and pride, a few days ago, i-Cube Qamar was crossing the boundaries of earth as it successfully delivered its first images from the out of Earth orbit. The satellite was able to capture and transmit its maiden shot from the moon orbit zooming into the moon’s topography granting us a rare imagery. 

On the 3rd of May, Pakistan practically entered in the outer-space technological realm with the launch of their 1st moon mission for research purposes. The mission has been supported and sent-out by China from the Hainan Space Site. The moon probe, weighing about 7 kg, was prepared in the time frame of two years by the Electrical Engineering Department of the Institute of Space Technology (IST), Islamabad.

SUPARCO’s lunar probe was carried by the satellite which was part of the Chang’e 6 mission of China. The sending of the mission is a landmark achievement that enabled Pakistan to be the sixth country to send a probe to moon.

Furthermore, in a groundbreaking step towards the progression of the country’s space program, Pakistan has declared her intention to launch a new satellite into space soon after the successful launch of the i-cube Qamar to the moon.

 Institutionalized Singularly Synthesized (MM1) is the name of the new satellite which is being slated for launch on 30th May as per the spokesperson of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), the national space agency of Pakistan.

One of the main aims behind the launch of the MM1 is to reinforce the communication systems of Pakistan. Indeed, its commissioning is expected to accelerate the development of an advanced telecommunication system which will be able to satisfy the increasing telecommunication needs of the country.

 With the internet usage sky-rocketing and 5G technology expected to be rolled out soon, satellite MM1 can bridge the gap for improving the quality as well as reliability of these services nationwide. The satellite’s advanced features are predicted to be corresponding to the rapidly growing demand for fast internet access and wired communications. This augurs for a new era of space exploration and strengthening of the satellite communication systems of the country spearheaded by SUPARCO.

Unlike the other space agencies, SUPARCO has a distinguished position because it was able to double its capabilities up from low earth orbit to lower near-space altitudes. it is the first one of space programs in the Muslim Ummah or the Islamic World and in the developing countries in the world at large. Despite having many ups and downs, the SUPARCO has, however, provided up a number of benefits that are considered to be the basis for Pakistan playing an outsized role in space discoveries.

The successes which the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) has made are remarkable and have added value to the space research and technology in Pakistan. In 1961 SUPARCO was created to position Pakistan among the active players in the exploration of space. SUPARCO since then has remarkably contributed to space science, satellite building, and spacecraft technology in Pakistan, commensurate with the founding leaders’ dream of space exploration by Pakistan.

The pioneering engineering endeavors are part of SUPARCO’s accomplishments, comprising the successful development and dispatch of indigenous experimental satellites and communication satellites. Pakistan in 1990 commissioned its first satellite the Badr-I. Later, Badr-B, the first indigenously-built, in 2001. These milestones proved Pakistan’s capability of building her own satellites and prowess in space technology. To this end, the completion of the communication satellite project, PAKSAT-1R, which was successfully launched in 2011, and the Earth observation satellites, PRSS-1 and PAKTES-1A, that were completed and sent into space in 2018, are a testament to Pakistan’s progress and application of space technology in the area of communication and observation of the Earth.

SUPARCO has also played a key role in the progress of research and development in space science and technology. With a goal of enhancing scientific research, the association has come up with ways to support technological development for utilization in socio-economic development. Besides, the progress of SUPARCO also highlights the role of partnership between the top universities worldwide to get skilled manpower for a vibrant and dynamic environment conducive to the application and development of space technologies. This commitment to research and development has contributed to the growth of the space sector in Pakistan and has paved the way for innovation and indigenous development of space technologies. The Institute of Space Technology (IST) is a case in point.

Moreover, SUPARCO has had a crucial role in developing space applications which have been used for solving national challenges and to improve the lives of the people in Pakistan. It has formed partnerships with the federal and provincial ministries, agencies, and departments to deliver space-based and other technologies nationally. Not only does SUPARCO possess the spacecraft capabilities for outer-space operations but such technologies also constitute a cost-effective method of addressing challenges such as national security, agricultural productivity, infrastructural development, food security, and environmental degradation. Hence, such measures show the feasibility of using space techniques as a continuous tool for sustainable development as well as solving pressing national problems.

 Apart from that, SUPARCO has always emphasized the importance of maintaining transparency and cooperation in outer space activities. The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space – 1975 has celebrated the 45th year of its adoption. As part of transparent and non-threatening outer-space operations, Pakistan through an established institutional framework informs the concerned UN body of its operations prior to execution. SUPARCO has continued to update the national space objects register and has actively participated in the outer-space sustainability and management of space programs. It has concerned itself with space weather, space debris and other space issues. This exhibits that Pakistan is upholding the principle of responsible and sustainable aerospace activities.

 Overall, SUPARCO has not only been able to achieve a number of major breakthroughs in the satellite development field but also has been active in applied space technology, conducting research, and advocacy for peaceful space exploration. SUPARCO not only played its part in the evolution of the space sector in Pakistan but also managed to depict that space technology can be used effectively by the country in order to overcome different national issues and increase peoples’ standard of living. Through accomplishments of SUPARCO, the Government of Pakistan shows the effort towards being independent in space science and technology and with space technology usage for nation-wide social and economic growth.

Muskan Moazzam

Muskan Moazzam is a student of Quaid e Azam University and has worked with institutes like National Assembly of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is currently associated with some national and international think tanks.

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