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Pakistan’s National Satellite Development Program
Haider Zaman
Burhan Ud Din
Ahtsham Khalid
Mehak Moin
Asim Saeed
Madam Maria Zafar
 Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
SUPARCO is an executive and bureaucratic space agency of
the Government of Pakistan. Pakistan's Public and Civil space program is
the responsibility of SUPARCO. It is also responsible for Aeronautic and
Aerospace research.
The sole purpose of SUPARCO is to conduct peaceful research in ‘Space
Technology’ and to promote the Space technology for Socio-economic
uplift of the country.
SUPARCO has expanded over the years and has several well expanded
installations all over the country. Theses installations acts as assets and
cooperates in peaceful use of space technology with the international
Science and Research of SUPARCO is mainly focused and concentrated
Solar system
Space weather
Big Bang Theory and Physical cosmology
Astronomical observation
Climatic studies
Space and Telemedicine
Remote sensing
Earth observation
SUPARCO has prime goal to undertake research and to develop space
technology and associated technologies to be served on the various task
related to national interest of Pakistan.
SUPPARCO’s official mission states its space policy: “Strive to achieve
self-reliance in space technology and applications for national security,
economy and society”
 Pakistan’s Space flight programs (1960s)
SUPARCO made research in the development of first Solidfuel expandable rockets, an assistance provided by the United States.
SUPARCO made its first and notable achievement on 7 June 1962.
SUPARCO launched its first “Unmanned Solid-fuel Sounding Rocket”. This
first initial space flight took place from the Sonmiani Terminal Launch. This
rocket was developed in a joint venture with Air force in a team led
by Pakistan Air force Air Commodore WJM Turowicz Known as
the Rehbar-I
Pakistan had secured its distinction as the third country in Asia and the
tenth in the world to conduct successful spaceflight. The Unmanned space
flight mission continued under Turowicz, and according to SUPARCO,
since 1962 till the partial termination of mission in 1972, ~200 sounding
rockets took high success space flights from Sonmiani Terminal Launch.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) publicly hailed the
space flight program as the beginning of
"A program of continuous cooperation in space research of mutual
This cooperative agreement called for the training of Pakistan's scientists,
engineers, and technicians at the specialized facilities in the United States.
 Bureaucratization and reorganization in Pakistan
In late 1970s, the space program suffered many setback and experience
number of difficulties, including lack of government response, shortage of
technical personnel and expert engineers needed for the country to have
an effective space program. The space flight program was abruptly ended
due to lack of funds and lessening government response.
In 1981, reforms and re-organization of the space program was carried out.
Munir Ahmad Khan played a very important role in reforming and reorganizing the Space program. Munir Ahmad Khan arranged a meeting at
bureaucratic level with then President General Zia-ul-Haq where he
persuaded the country's bureaucracy to put efforts to reestablish the space
program with an autonomous status without any political influence.
In 1979-80s, SUPARCO launched the project to develop and launch
country's first artificial satellite and began sending hundreds of engineers
to University of Surrey to participate in the development of UO-11 which
was launched in 1984.
In 1983, a communication satellite project called Paksat was initiated, with
the establishment of the 10-meter diameter satellite ground station for
interception of satellite transmissions was set up that was mainly designed
against India.
According to the scientists involved in this program, the real aim was to
launch a satellite that could stage a Cultural Counter Attack on India with
the influx of new Pakistani media channels. On visiting SUPARCO, Zia
cancelled all project and abruptly ended the satellite program.
 Orbital slot crises and setbacks (1990s)
In the 1990s, the space program experienced a number of orbital slot crises and failures. In 1991,
SUPARCO launched another satellite project Badr-B with the technical assistance provided by
the United Kingdom.
The spacecraft's sub-systems were developed and manufactured by
Pakistan based DESTO, SIL, and British Rutherford Laboratory, while the
spacecraft integration was performed by SUPARCO.
The program was completed in 1994, and it was expected to be launched
the same year. However, the space program began to suffer much more
serious hindrances and lacked the technical assistance to launch the
satellite on its own. The target to complete the satellite could not be
achieved on time, and in 1994, plans to launch the spacecraft did not
materialize, and the launch was halted and delayed long to 2001
Pakistan's space program was now split between the competitions
It is an independent government authority and a scientific research
institution, concerned with research and development of nuclear power,
promotion of nuclear science, energy conservation and the peaceful
usage of nuclear technology
 National Development Complex (NDC)
It is a defence and aerospace contractor and a division under the
NESCOM. Founded in 1990 at the MoD, the NDC engaged in research
and development in space-based missile systems and expanded its
services towards developing the land-based weapons systems for the
army as well as naval systems for the navy.
 Defence Science and Technology Organization (DESTO)
It is a multi-disciplinary program agency under the Ministry of Defence
Production, dedicated for evaluation of science and technology for use
by the military.
 PAF Missile Command
The Pakistan Air Force Strategic Forces Command, known as PAF
Strategic Command, is one of the major commands of the Pakistan Air
Force responsible for air force elements of strategic deterrence
 Recent developments and revitalization (2000s & 2010s)
In 2000, SUPARCO was brought under the National Command Authority in
order to focus on "real development" Under the privileges and opportunities
awarded by the economic liberalization policies of Prime minister Shaukat
Aziz SUPARCO pushed herself to gain the support from the local
government and the private-sector.
In 2003, Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz began to forcefully push
SUPARCO to pursue and deliver an active space program. Funds and
government support were increased personally by Pervez Musharraf as he
goaded the space program as "next logical frontier".
In 2004, SUPARCO launched an ambition project to developed country's
first Geo-stationary satellite; the new project was known as Paksat1Replacement.
In 2007, Shaukat Aziz paid a state visit to Beijing where he successfully
persuaded China to join the project, and to provide financial assistance to
make the project timely successful.
In 2005, then-President Pervez Musharraf outlined his vision for SUPARCO
by laying down a clearly defined agenda for the national space agency to
pursue and deliver in minimum time. Musharraf had made it clear that:
"Pakistan would need to catch up to the world space leaders and
make up for lost time and neglect in the past and future"
In 2011, SUPARCO launched country's first satellite on schedule from
China and was deployed successfully at 38°E in the Geo-stationary
orbit. The new satellite took over the existing satellites of the country in
 Communication and Geosynchronous satellites of
1. Badr-1 or Badr-A
SUPARCO locally built Pakistan's first digital communication satellite, Badr-1A in 1986.
China voluntarily offered Pakistan to launch this satellite, using its Long March 2 rockets
In July 1990, it was launched from China from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China. The
satellite successfully completed its designed life. It was termed as key success to SUPARCO
by the government of Pakistan.
2. PakSat-1
PakSat is a geosynchronous and communications satellite built and owned by the Boeing
Company, leased to the SUPARCO as PakSat.
It was put on orbit on 31 January 1996 as Palapa C1 for Indonesia. But, after the technical
problems, the satellite was leased to SUPARCO.
After a series of orbital maneuvers, the satellite was stabilized at the final location on 20
December 2002 with 0°inclination. The satellite is in position at the Pakistan-licensed orbital
location, 38°E longitude.
Its customers included government organizations, TV broadcasters, telecom companies,
data and broadband internet service providers.
In 2012. The PakSat-IE was decommissioned later after the second satellite was launched in
3. PakSat-1Replacement
On 14 August 2011, PakSat-1R was launched by China. This Satellite was built by China
Academy of Space Technology. PakSat-1R replaced PakSat-1E.
The PakSat-1R is program to support all conventional and modern Fixed Satellite Service
(FSS) applications including broadband, E-learning, telemedicine, digital TV and emergency
SUPARCO has two fully functional Mission control centers to ensure high degree of reliability
and availability of the system. These centers were established in Karachi and Lahore.
 Weather and earth observation Satellites of
Badr-2 or Badr-B
The Badr-B (Badr-II) is the second spacecraft and the first earth observation satellite launched
into Earth orbit by the SUPARCO in 2001. Badr-B is a microsatellite, with a mass of ~70 kg, and
contained the super computerized system to conduct the studies on the gravity gradient.
Badr-B is a research satellite to explore the upper atmosphere and the near space, and carried a
large array of instruments for geophysical research.
Despite its five year designated life the satellite was lost in deep space after mere 2 years.
 Remote sensing satellites of Pakistan
In 2006-07, SUPARCO launched the physical development on high-resolution and the series of the
remote-sensing weather satellites to meet the national and international user requirements in the
field of satellite imagery.
This dual purpose remote-sensing and the weather satellite program is known as the PRS program,
and in January 2007, a feasibility and system definition study was concluded by SUPARCO, which
recommended the launch of an optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite to ensure that
the domestic and international user requirements are competitively met.
In July 2007, the first prototype of the first optical satellite in this PRS program, and the launch of
the manufacturing of the satellite was planned in the third quarter of year 2008. Initially, SUPARCO
plans to launch an optical satellite in 700 km sun-synchronous orbit, which will be followed by a
series of optical and SAR satellites in the future. The satellite is under development process and it is
being developed by SUPARCO and it is expected to be launched in 2014.
Space Program 2040 of SUPARCO:Space Program 2040 is a satellite development and launch program of
SUPARCO. It is intending to replace the Badr satellite program and geostationary communication satellite.
Paksat-IR was the first satellite launched under this program.
Five GEO satellites (Geosynchronous satellites) and Six LEO satellites
(Low Earth orbit satellites) will be launched in between 2011 till 2040.
These satellites are intended to replace SUPARCO’s existing satellites in
the orbit.
The stated goals of the program are;
 To gain significant experience in satellite development
 To practice Space medicine
 To promote socio-economic sector in the country
The program intends to learn to develop the military and space
technologies and to conduct experiments on fundamental sciences in
space frontier.
The Government maintained that prime purpose of this program is to bring
the benefits of the full spectrum of space technology to the people of
GEO satellites (Geosynchronous satellites)
The details of five GEO satellites from 2011 till 2040 are;
1. Paksat-IE
2. Paksat-IR
The GEO satellites that are under development or proposed are:
3. Paksat-MM1
4. Paksat-MM2[
5. Paksat-II
LEO satellite (Low Earth orbit satellite)
In 1992, SUPARCO launched its first LEO project and it was completed in
1996. Badr-II was SUPARCO's first LEO satellite and was launched in
2001 by Russian Space Agency.
Since then, SUPARCO took initiatives to replace Badr-II therefore leading
to Remote Sensing Satellite program in January 2007.
Remote Sensing Program
There are six remote sensing satellites are expected to be developed and
launched under this program. SUPARCO is intending to launch its first
remote sensing satellite in 2014 and it is named as PRSS-O1. According to
SUPARCO, the planned and manufactured satellites are list below:
Optical satellite
SUPARCO plans to launch its first Optical satellite in the end year of 2011
from People's Republic of China. It is the first satellite that is locally
manufactured by the SUPARCO and to meet the national and international
user requirements in the field of satellite imagery.
 Global Participation for Pakistan’s Satellite
Development :-
In August 2006, Peoples Republic of China signed an agreement with
Pakistan to conduct joint research in space technology and committed to
work with Pakistan to launch three Earth-weather satellites over the next
five years.
In May 2007, China signed an agreement with Pakistan to enhance
cooperation in the areas of space science and technology. The PakistanChina bilateral cooperation in the space industry span a broad spectrum
 Climate science
 Clean energy technologies
 Atmospheric and earth Sciences
 Marine Sciences
On the occasion of Chinese launch of PakSat-1R, Pakistan's ambassador
to China expressed the natural desire of Pakistan for China to send a first
officially designated Pakistan astronaut to space aboard a Chinese
In December 2006, Turkey showed interest to form a joint-venture with
Pakistan in its space program, particularly in the development of satellites.
In 2006, Turkish minister of science, accompanied by the Turkish
Ambassador to Pakistan, signed the Memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with Pakistan to form a joint-venture with Pakistan in
the development of satellite technology.
The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and Turkish
Aerospace Industries’ senior ranking officials and representative signed a
separate accord with the SUPARCO to enhance the cooperation in the
satellite development program.
International collaboration:
Invited by Soviet Union, SUPARCO joined the COSPAS-SARSAT
program in 1990, after receiving the approval of the Government of
Pakistan. Since 1990, SUPARCO has been controlling and hosting many
Soviet-Russian COSPAS-SARSAT satellites.
The Pakistan Mission Control Center in Karachi serves as headquarter of
the region to control the COSPAS satellites, and over the years SUPARCO
has emerged as lead agency to provide the ground and satellite
transmissions to COSPAS-SARSAT program. Pakistan is also a member
of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO). SUPARCO
and the Department of Space have signed formal Memorandum of
Understanding agreements with a number of foreign political entities.