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Forgotten space programme

March 19, 2013

THIS is apropos of the letter ‘Pakistan’s space programme’ by Shakir Lakhani (Feb 14). While I endorse his views, I would like to say that in the 1960s we were far ahead in rocket and space technology in our region due to some dedicated professionals.

One of them was an unsung hero of the PAF, Air Commodore Wladyslaw Turowicz, who was one of the Polish officers who joined the newly-created RPAF shortly after the independence. He became a Pakistani citizen and has also served in the early 1960s as head of the maintenance of the equipment/systems of the PAF.

He was a prominent and noted Polish-origin Pakistani military and rocket scientist and an aeronautical engineer. He is regarded as one of the chief architects of the PAF and Pakistan’s space programme. He was a lead figure in Pakistan’s eagerness to develop high-tech rocket/missile technology of its own.

Mr Turowicz was the administrator of Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) from 1967 to 1970. He has recently been referred to as the ‘Rocket-Missile Man’ of Pakistan by some of the prominent defence analysts for his work towards the development of ballistic missile and space rocket technology in which Pakistan is now one of the world leaders.

In Pakistan, he is highly respected as a scientist and noted aeronautical engineer. He died in Karachi on Jan 8, 1980, and was buried at Christian Cemetry (Gora Qabristan).

Advancement in space technology hasn’t been a priority of our succesive governments for several decades. That is why we have lagged behind.