KARACHI: Pakistani scientists yesterday successfully fired, in their very first attempt, a two-stage weather rocket carrying a payload of 80 pounds of sodium which soared about 80 miles into the atmosphere. Technically known as ‘two-stage sounding rocket’ and named ‘Rehbar-1’, the rocket was fired by a team of young Pakistani scientists and engineers at 7.53pm West Pakistan Standard Time from the rocket range designed and constructed by them at Sonmiani Beach, nearly 35 miles west of Karachi.

The rocket was assembled, tested and launched by the team in Karachi without any outside help. The sodium payload was purchased from the Geophysics Corporation of America, one of whose representatives helped in the check-out of the actual fitting in the nose-cone of the rocket.

The rocket left behind a trail of sodium flares which were photographed by specially designed cameras installed at Karachi, Hyderabad and Lasbela. Soon after the firing of the rocket, thousands of people in Karachi and neighbouring areas saw the orange-coloured flare curl in an arc.

With the launching of the rocket, Pakistan has become the third country in Asia and the tenth in the world to undertake such a launch. The other countries which have already made launchings of this type are the USA, the USSR, the UK, France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Japan and Israel.

It was officially announced that the launching will be followed by a series of shots and the scientific data will be shared with scientists globally engaged in similar efforts. — Staff Correspondent