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Pakistan's first Cubesat satellite, iCUBE-1 – Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan
Pakistan's first Cubesat satellite, iCUBE-1 – Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan
The IST team on the launch day. – Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan
The IST team on the launch day. – Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan
The IST team in their lab. - Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan
The IST team in their lab. - Photo courtesy Institute of Space Technology Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's first Cubesat satellite, iCUBE-1, was launched on Thursday on-board Dnepr launch vehicle from Yasny launch base in Russia.

Built by the Institute of Space Technology (IST), iCUBE-1 was designed and developed at a cost of Rs3-3.5 million.

Talking to, Spokesperson IST Raza Butt said that it’s a positive move for technology in Pakistan.

“The world is moving towards miniaturisation. The launch cost is significantly low for CubeSats as compared to the bigger satellites. The low cost factor is very attractive for researchers who can test their payloads using these cubesats and then incorporate this technology in their bigger satellites,” he commented.

For the uninitiated, a CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite for space research that usually has a volume of exactly one liter (10 cm cube), has a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms.

The cubesat will open up a wide vista of future experiments that can be carried on cubesats in the domain of imaging, microgravity, biology, nano technology, space dynamics, chemistry, space physics and various other fields. Cubesats can also provide a test bed for developing satellite constellations for specific applications.

“In addition, CubeSats need to pass the standard testing procedures which are same for all other satellites giving it’s manufacturers the confidence of building and launching bigger satellites,” he informed.

A team of around 20 faculty members and 15 students worked on the project which was initiated in 2009.

ICUBE-1 is expected to be operational for a period of 2 years. It is a low earth polar orbit at an altitude of 600km.

Sharing an interesting observation during the development of the project, Butt said: “It was interesting that during launch integration, the team had interaction with developers from other countries, such as Italy, Spain, USA and Peru. They were excited. A number of them are open to collaboration with IST on future cubesat missions.”

APP adds:

The Institute of Space Technology has achieved this astounding success in a short span of ten years, owing to the concerted efforts by its leadership, students and faculty to standout in this field and to create a national center of excellence in space technology.

Vice Chancellor IST, Engr. Imran Rahman congratulated 'Team IST' for this great achievement.

He specifically thanked the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Chairman HEC and Chairman of National Space Agency for their continuous encouragement, support and help in achieving this milestone.

Talking to APP, Spokesperson IST Raza Butt said “iCUBE-1 has been launched in a polar orbit, 600 Km above the surface of the Earth, and is designed to take low resolution images of Earth and other space objects.”

Initially, iCUBE-1 will transmit a Continuous Wave Morse coded beacon with message “iCUBE-1 First CubeSat of Pakistan”.

Amateur radio operators have a great opportunity to hear those signals on the VHF band. iCUBE-1 has a mass of 1.1 Kg and is thus categorized as a pico-satellite.

The satellite has a volume of 10cm cube and it houses several sensors to collect data for scientific purposes. iCUBE-1 is a fully autonomous satellite and is capable of maintaining its health via its on-board computer.

The satellite will send its health data to ground stations and can also be commanded from Satellite Tracking and Control Station at IST.

Comments (62) Closed

sheikh Nov 22, 2013 01:17am

Good stuff! Step in the right direction.

salman Nov 22, 2013 01:50am

excellent work team IST! Bravo Pakistan!

Mayank Nov 22, 2013 01:51am

Congratulations Pakistan on pulling this off. As an Indian I would be happy to see India and Pakistan competing in space technology rather than the senseless arms race.

shahid Nov 22, 2013 01:52am

Good news! Although this is significant for future of Pakistan space research, these days even a small news from Pakistan is a big refresher.

Pakistan Zindabad!

Raju Nov 22, 2013 02:04am

Congrats, Pakistan, Job well one!!! Bravo!!!

Ganesh Venkatasubramaniam Nov 22, 2013 02:04am

Congrats Pakistan..

Ganesh Venkatasubramaniam Nov 22, 2013 02:06am

Congrats Pakistan Way to start...way to go

Jibreel Nov 22, 2013 02:06am

Can someone tell me what is the purpose of this satellite except for the verification of an already old concept (miniaturization of satellites) ? Even that is not clearly mentioned.

Nabeel Arif Nov 22, 2013 02:30am

This is a great acheivement Masha Allah!!! finally a step towards the future and a break through in the time when a satellite can be launched in such a minimal cost!!

Conrgatulations to the whole team who made the effort on this huge success!!

Iftekhar Mahmood Nov 22, 2013 02:43am

Wish it were IST's own built design rather than a Pumpkin kit put together in 10 years since it was bought, with tax payers money of course! Learning & satisfaction value would've been far greater for the kit and launch price paid. A very expensive project with extreme delays...students at other universities average two years in building their own designs of cubesats.

salman mahmood Nov 22, 2013 03:01am

Very nice!! It is heart warming to read news like this. There is still progress in our beloved country despite all the negativity and terrorism. Hopefully, things keep on moving in positive direction.

Fuad Nov 22, 2013 04:24am

Well Done guys that's the way to go. You made us all proud of your achievements and may you scale even greater hights in your field for the benefit of our nation. Well Done once again

Shaukat Basit Nov 22, 2013 05:03am

Bravo Pakistan and all the intellectuals who shared in this endeavor.May Allah swt grant you all the wisdom to create other marvels in the feild of space technology. Ameen.

Mansoor Ahmed Banglani Nov 22, 2013 07:17am

A good first step

Wasif Hussain Nov 22, 2013 07:10am

Give us more of these positive News. The main stream media totally ignores such aspects.

Ibrahim Nov 22, 2013 07:32am

As a Pakistani I am proud of this. Pakistan's space programme is far ahead of India. Even though indian space research organisation has 16000 staff they have the capacity to launch only 2000 kilos satellite. Our 3 member staff could build a 1kg satellite. It's a big achievement.

Shyam Nov 22, 2013 08:17am

Constructive use of science and research should always be well supported by the government and people alike.

More than the end product the journey of research brings a lot of innovation helpful for common man. Ex. India's research on food for space travel has given a lot in terms of food forms for people in disaster hit areas, commercial food items etc.

So constructive use of science has to be supported. All the best to all scientists involved for this and also for future.

waseem ahmed Nov 22, 2013 09:21am

well done boys.keep doing work in sciene and tech.

zeeshan Nov 22, 2013 09:23am

Ma shaa ALLAH, Great ! Congratulations to the entire team ! Government must motivate them.

AKHTAR ALEEM SYED Nov 22, 2013 10:27am

Congratulations to IST and its team on their achievement. They deserve recognition and SHABASH from all for strengthening our belief that we have talent and will to deliver.

WTH Nov 22, 2013 10:57am

Why did they have to name it iCUBE! it was launched by Pakistan, not Apple.

patriot Nov 22, 2013 12:02pm

I was going through all the comments of the readers... and noticed that a team of pessimists is rating down all the comments in favor of IST... The only cynical comment is rated upwards... I have been noting it for quite some time now and it has beginning to form a pattern... There is a team monitoring all the news and comments published in online versions of various newspapers and they participate in degrading every positive word against Pakistan. Try and note this

Tight Patloon Nov 22, 2013 12:29pm

Well done Pakistan!!! At least a good positive news from Pakistan. I would have been happier if Pakistanis would have appreciated India's Mars Launch too instead of put it down with arguments like poverty and malnutrition in India.

mohammad Nov 22, 2013 01:23pm


A Kashmiri Nov 22, 2013 03:02pm


dr vimal raina Nov 22, 2013 03:09pm

Congratulations to Pakistan. Any long journey starts with a small step and I believe this is that step.

eesha Nov 22, 2013 03:45pm

@waseem ahmed: not only boys :/ girls are also in the team...

eesha Nov 22, 2013 03:54pm

@waseem ahmed: not only boys :/ girls are also in the team...

kashif Nov 22, 2013 03:49pm

and i watched geo last 2 days and no such news! they only do negative propaganda yet we still don't raise our voices

Ahmad Farooq Sultan Nov 22, 2013 04:21pm

Well done. You have demonstrated that we have talent & will to deliver. Keep it up.

Dr. B.N. Anand Nov 22, 2013 04:24pm

A first step in space worth applauding. It may be worthwhile for Pakistan to consider the option of launching such miniaturized satellite from a launching pad in our country. It will be very economical. But before that some real CBMS will have to be built between our two countries.

Rao Nov 22, 2013 05:32pm

Is the news article right in saying that the weight of satellite launched by IST is only 1.1 kilograms!!!

Abrar-ul-Haque Nov 22, 2013 06:22pm

Believe me friends, every project can be damn successfully completed at such a low cast, but there is only one condition, which is that there must not be a politician involved, as in this very project. Look, how heartening it is to see that some young people did it all, and I think, politicians afar, even bureaucracy was not involved, thanks Almighty. These two so called institutions have eaten us alive like an alligator does.

G. Din Nov 22, 2013 07:49pm

@Rao: "Is the news article right in saying that the weight of satellite launched by IST is only 1.1 kilograms!!!"

It is NOT the WEIGHT but MASS. There is a difference between MASS and WEIGHT. MASS is measured in kg and Weight in Newtons(N) or kgf or Kg. Weight = MASS x Gravitational Acceleration (which varies from place to place)

Abdul Mannan Mulla Nov 22, 2013 08:46pm

Excellent achievement, I can only begin by saying 'congratulations' to to each one of you who participated in this job well done. This is a result of your 4 years of 'hard work' and the devotion that you as a team work have religiously executed your duties. Also thanks go out to those who helped you in providing a platform to launch the vehicle successfully. Wish you all best of luck by the Grace of Almighty.

Simon Nov 22, 2013 08:56pm

@Ibrahim: You are taking entire ISRO work force and then comparing to the team which launched this. 3 people, is the team which developed the satellite, what's the total strength of Pak's space organization, wont it be in hundreds? If then, will the 1.1kg satellite looks good for it?

Illusion Nov 22, 2013 09:25pm

@Ibrahim: Compare apples to apples please. Pakistani scientists did not launch 1kg satellites . They built it. India builds and launches 2 ton satellites. A huge difference. Nevertheless, a very hearty congratulations to all involved in this project.

Arif Shahzad Nov 22, 2013 09:56pm

Congratulation to all pakistan and the team .

Awais Nov 22, 2013 10:35pm

Good work team Icube. Proud of being a part of IST.

Agha Ata Nov 22, 2013 11:48pm

We are approaching the space, but haven't yet learned to do things in the air. Look at PIA, or even railway trains.

Goutham Nov 22, 2013 11:58pm

Congrats! This will definitely inspire young Pakistanis!

Mahmood Nov 23, 2013 12:29am

Congratulation to the team!!!

Finally some fresh and refreshing air from my beloved Pakistan. Long live Pakistan!!!

Mahmood Nov 23, 2013 12:37am

@Ibrahim: success is not measured by weight. We don't need to make any comparison with India. Why referring to India when measuring our success...Both counties should co-operate in scientific research...

Shahid Nov 23, 2013 01:10am

Congrats to IST, I would like to know the scientific data that this satellite is going to collect and how will this benefit our country.

Mr Q Nov 23, 2013 01:16am

Its not the first step..BADR satellite was also launched in late 80's...however this is a fading attempt to recover some self esteem. School kids can make this elswhere

Ghulam Ishaq Nov 23, 2013 02:35am

Rs 30 lac for a 10 cm high and 10 cm wide box, that would transmit a repetitive message of "This is Pakistan's first box in space"

Faisal Nov 23, 2013 04:36am

Um..what does it do?

My2Cents Nov 23, 2013 07:49am


Yeah .. also worth noting is the fact that India has its own rockets while the three of us had to put our cubesat on borrowed space from another country's rocket. We had to get this done by talking to scientists from other countries... good good !

Dont bring politics into science. Neil Armstrong's words : A huge step for Mankind. Since has done that and can certainly do it . Feel proud of your country's achievement .. if you need to bash some other country take it some other chanel

vijay India Nov 23, 2013 11:00am

@Ibrahim: Mr. Ibrahim, your thoughts are illogical. Pakistan has taken a small step which hopefully lead to launching bigger satellites. Please note that in 60's few Indian scientists carried small rockets on bicycles for testing at a village called Thumba in Kerala state which ulimately lead to the designing, developing huge rocket launchers and huge satellites. Your 3:16000 ratio does not hold good when you are launching 8 to 9 satellites from a single rocket which India has done.

Bhavani Shankar Pani Nov 23, 2013 12:17pm

@Agha Ata: Recently when India launched its Mars mission, there was lot of criticism in Indian press too about expenditure and poverty at ground level. There was a sane voice from somewhere - "If you want to wait to be rich first before developing scientific capability in the country - you can bet - you will have neither for a long - long time." Science and technology are game changers and growth multipliers. Go for it Pakistan!

Engr Syed Javed Ahmed Nov 23, 2013 12:40pm

Well done Team IST! Keep up your courage, tenacity and determination. InshaAllah we look forward to the day when we use our own launch vehicle and launch station. May Allah keep you under the shade of His blessings, Ameen

Rajesh Nov 23, 2013 01:56pm

Congratulations to all women and men involved with this experiment - a lab experiment. But let us keep the jubilation within proportionate limits with the following: - The size is same as packet of 1 litre of milk the small families buy every day. - The weight of this is 1kg, same as milk purchased by small families everyday. - It is not manufactured but ONLY ASSEMBLED in Pakistan. Amateur kits to assemble such satellites are easily available online and in hobby stores.

Rajesh Nov 23, 2013 02:12pm

Size of the satellite is: 4 inches long, 4 inches wide, 4 inches high.

Ismail Nov 23, 2013 02:10pm

When Pakistan is mired with poverty, malnourishment and terror breeding points, it is definitely futile to aim for the skies. Let's clean up the ground realities and become a normal nation before all this.

Rajesh Nov 23, 2013 06:01pm

Congratulation to men and women at ISt. However, let us set the record straight. 1. Due to its tiny size ( 4 INCH long, wide, high).it is actually a 'PICO satellite'. 2. It is NOT the 1st Pak satellite in earth orbit. Pak's first satellite Badr-1, was launched in July 1990. "It was the first SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) engineered object to orbit the Earth. That launch took place on July 16, 1990 as part of the International Frequency Registration Bureau. The Urdu language word "Badr" literally means "Full Moon", and its launch vehicle was Chinese Long March 2 space rocket Long March 2E.

The Badr series consisted of two satellites. Both were developed by SUPARCO. The Badr-I satellite successfully completed its designated life and all three of the satellites are still in use. The Badr program will be decommissioned in 2012 after the Badr-B completed its successful designated life in an Earth's orbit."

Shafqat mir Nov 23, 2013 06:27pm

I waited almost 40 years to hear a news like this from my beloved

Country Pakistan, which I left at the age of 24, against the wishes

Of my parents, wish I hear news like this every 3 months, work hard

My indian and Pakistani friends, we are the best

Mohamme Malik Nov 23, 2013 08:54pm

Today the CUBE, tomorrow the TRIANGLE, day after HEXAGON.


average indian Nov 24, 2013 12:28am

Congratulations Pakistan. We wish you well

MUHAMMAD Furqan Ijaz Nov 24, 2013 01:41am

Congratulations to all nation. We must go for nano-technology immediatelly.

Blitzer Nov 24, 2013 10:07am

Congratulations to team IST and Pakistan!

To people who are comparing ISRO with a small college/institute: really? There's no denying the fact that ISRO and India's space program is way, way ahead of Pakistan's. India achieved that through an excellent system of higher education. Pakistan should emulate India's success and establish more universities that excel in STEM along the lines of the many IIT's in India. Along with an education, Pakistani engineering schools need to encourage independent research at all levels.

ROHIT PANDEY Nov 24, 2013 12:16pm


Builds confidence in oneself?

And that confidence can be put to use building bigger and bigger projects?

Good luck!!

Jaswinder Singh Nov 24, 2013 10:35pm

Good job keep it up.