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Pakistan has decided to launch its first manned mission in 2022, the same year that India has planned to launch its own manned space mission.

The decision was taken during Pakistan’s federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on October 25, 2018. The cabinet approved the plan of sending an astronaut to space for the first time in 2022 with China’s help.The information was shared by Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.

Collaboration with China

  • For the mission, an agreement between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and a Chinese company has already been signed.
  • Pakistan and China already have robust defence ties and Pakistan is one of the top buyers of Chinese military hardware. 
  • Earlier in 2018, Pakistan had launched two satellites into orbit, using a Chinese launch vehicle.
  • The satellites were launched aboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, China.
  • The satellites included a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1), a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite, and PAK-TES-1A.
  • Developed by Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO), the PAK-TES-1A satellite was launched to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country that would help end Pakistan’s dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture.
  • The satellites had to be transported to China as Pakistan lacks the infrastructure to launch objects to space.

Space Race with India?

  • Pakistan’s plan to send a human to space is aimed for the same year that India plans to launch its own manned human space mission.
  • The major difference between the two missions is that while ISRO’s mission will be their own, Pakistan will do so with China’s help.
  • India’s ambitious space mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address this year. If successful, the mission would make India the fourth nation in the word to do so.
  • China had launched its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming the third country in the world to independently develop a manned spaceflight, after Russia and the United States.

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