ISLAMABAD: In a bid to reduce dependence on foreign satellites for civil and military purposes, Pakistan plans to launch an aggressive space programme during the next fiscal year by initiating several projects.

The budget of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Organisation (Suparco) for the upcoming fiscal year 2018-19 is Rs4.70 billion which includes Rs2.55bn for three new projects.

The funding includes allocation of Rs1.35bn for Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat- MM1) and the country is also planning to establish Pakistan Space Centre in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with the allocation of Rs1bn. The third project is establishment of Space Application Research Centre in Karachi with the budget of Rs200 million in 2018-19.

The total cost of PakSat-MM1 is Rs27.57bn and that of the space centres is Rs26.91bn.

These projects are part of several ongoing and upcoming schemes to develop self-reliance capacity and reduce dependence on foreign satellites, mainly the US and French satellites for civil and military communications.

Analysts have stressed that advanced space programme is the need of time not only due to growing demand from the civil communications, including the GPS, mobile telephony and the internet but due to changing scenario in the region also.

“There are two unusual developments in the region effecting the strategic situation — first of all Pakistan has to keep an eye on Indian side and previously their programme had limited quality advancements but now the US has active cooperation with the Indian satellite programme,” Maria Sultan, a defence analyst said.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2018

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