China to Help Pakistan in its Ambitious Space Program: Fawad Chaudhry
Science and Technology minister Fawad Chaudhry caused quite a stir last week when he announced plans to launch Pakistan ’s first manned space mission in 2022.
Proud to announce that selection process for the first Pakistani to be sent to Space shall begin from Feb 2020,fifty people will be shortlisted — list will then come down to 25 and in 2022 we will send our first person to space,this will be the biggest space event of our history
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) July 25, 2019
This tweet left a lot of people baffled and they were curious to know how serious the minister really is. Many people wondered just how exactly the would go about executing such a complicated and costly venture.
Pakistan Space Program – Fawad’s Clarity
Fawad provided some clarity on the surprise announcement of the 2022 space mission and the revamp of Pakistan’s space programme. He talked with a local news outlet, Express Tribune.
Collaboration With China
“Yes, launching even a satellite is costly,” he admitted. “But there is no difficulty now as the mission that we are planning is a collaborative one with China.”
“Although several factors, such as procurement and development of necessary infrastructure and technology will determine the final cost of the programme, with Beijing’s help and a few million dollars, we should be able to achieve our objective,” he said with confidence.
Fawad pointed out that the planned 2022 mission would be the culmination of the space policy Pakistan’s national space agency, Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) outlined in 2002. An agreement with China in line with the policy was reached in 2015.
“Our government, upon coming to power, decided to take this policy to fruition. We will complete the vision Suparco outlined 17 years ago and send the first Pakistani to space,” he said.
Suparco and the Pakistan Air Force would carry out the mission jointly, Fawad elaborated. “In accordance with international practice when it comes to space programmes, the individuals shortlisted for the mission will be selected by PAF from its pool of fighter pilots,” he said.
“Astronauts all over the world generally have an air force background. Air force pilots are understood to have the necessary fitness, training and experience for such missions and as such, are considered optimal candidates,” the minister explained. He added that once PAF has selected the potential astronauts, Suparco would complete work on other projects associated with the 2022 mission.
He said the PAF will shortlist 50 candidates from its pool of fighter pilots in the initial phase. The list will be revised to 25 potential candidates.
When asked about the utility of the program at a time when the country is facing an economic crisis, Fawad said, the development of the space mission will directly benefit other sectors.
The minister criticized the previous government for their lack of interest in Pakistan space program. He reflected that Pakistan was only the second Asian country after the Soviet Union (Russia) to have launched a space program.