The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), best known as the SUPARCO (Urdu:ا سپا ر كو or پاکستان خلائی و بالا فضائی تحقیقاتی ماموریہ) is an executive agency of the Government of Pakistan, responsible for nation's public and civil space program and aeronautics and aerospace research. It was established in its modern form in 1961 by an executive order of President Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan on the advice of its founding director, Abdus Salam. The agency is part of Pakistan Defence Forces's Strategic Plans Division (SPD) under the current control of Pakistan Army. The SPD is headed by the Army's retired three star general Lieutenant-General Khalid Kadwai. SPD headquarters are located at the Pakistan Air Force controlled Chaklala Cantonment.

The executive figure of the agency is Major-General Ahmed Bilal who is heading the agency as the current chairman of SUPARCO, while he is also serving his tenure as Colonel Commandant of Pakistan Army Corps of Signals Engineering.

Please see attached pdf for a detailed presentation on SUPARCO.

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I would like to bring to the attention of our readers the name of Air Commodore Waldyslae Turowicz a Polish Pakistani military scientist and an aeronautical engineer. He is considered one of the chief architects of the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Space Program. He was SUPARCO adminstrator from 1967 to 1970 and contributed geatly in the development of rocket, missile and satellite technology. An early contributer, he worked closely with Dr Abdus Salam in development of aeronautical sciences in Pakistan. He was responsible for the development of Pakistan's early weather satellite program Rehbar-I and REhbar-II. Please read his Wikipedia page to know details about his services to PAF and SUPARCO. He is one of the unsung heroes of Pakistan

Wikepedia Page


Note: The Indian Space Research Organization was established in 1969, eight years afer SUPARCO. There was no shortage of drive and vision in our early scientist.


Ameer Alam

Here's a Business Recorder report on the inauguration of PakSat-1R ground control station in Lahore:

He (Gilani) expressed pleasure that PAKSAT 1R has reached its intended orbit and all subsystems are functioning perfectly.

The PAKSET- 1R was launched on August 12 from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre by China Great Wall Industry Corporation (Cawie).

It was moved to its designated position at 38 degrees East longitude in the geo-stationary orbit to replace the existing satellite Pakistan 1.

It has 32 trans-transponders with three communication antennas to cover the whole of Pakistan and 75 other countries across Asia , East Africa and part of western Europe.

The Prime Minister said that application of space technologies is contributing significantly to socio-economic and security concepts of the developing countries like Pakistan.

He said that with this realisation in mind he approved Pakistan's Space Vision-2040 earlier this year, adding that successful launching and commissioning of PAKSAT 1R marks the first significant step towards realising the Space Vision.

He said that communication satellites were playing a vital role across the world over in bridging the digital divide between backward and remote areas and urban centres in the fields of health, education, entertainment and communication service delivery.

Gilani said PAKSAT-1R would help to extend the communication infrastructure to the entire country thus bringing the fruits of socio-economic development to the remotest corners of Pakistan.

He said that Suparco's space applications programme was already contributing to various fields, the significant ones being agriculture, crop monitoring, yield estimation, food and water security, improvement of water courses, monitoring of environment, disaster monitoring and mitigation, land cover use and many others.

He said with the availability of communication satellite PAKSAT-1R, significant strides would be made in mentioned areas to give impetus to all walks of national reconstruction and development.

The Prime Minister said that besides playing its fundamental role for extending communication facilities, he would urge Suparco and other stakeholders to focus more on tele-education and tele-medicine for improving the quality of life in the remote areas of the country.

He said by doing this benefits of the communication satellite services would be extended to the less privileged strata of society.

The Prime minister said that after successful deployment of PAKSAT 1R, he had directed Suparco to focus on the development of Remote Sensing Satellites to ensure that these satellites are developed and launched as envisaged in the Space Vision 2040.

The Prime Minister urged all federal ministries and provincial portfolios to optimum utilise space technology as an instrument of socio-economic development pointing that it was crucial that the space assets that nation acquired were used at best for the national cause.

He said that he was sure that in view of Pakistan's strategic relationship with China co-operation in space technology and its applications would become yet another hallmark of Pakistan-China friendship.

He said academia has a key role to play to spread knowledge about space technology.

He emphasised that academic and research institutions need to incorporate aspects pertaining to space sciences, space technology and their applications in their curricula.

About close co-operation, collaboration, co-ordination and interaction between Suparco and universities he said it could significantly lead to explore all avenues of space technology.

The Prime Minister expressed pleasure that Suparco, besides other responsibilities was making endeavours to create awareness about the space technology amongst youth.....
Have you ever wondered why NASA is now using Russian Soyuz rockets to put American astronauts in space? Is it because Americans lack such capability?

The fact that NASA is using data from an Indian satellite does not mean others do not have the same capacity to collect such data. It's because NASA has provided the required equipment to India and has a data-sharing agreement with ISRO.

Pakistan already has such a capability in its satellite Paksat r-1 for remote sensing of weather patterns and events.

Although Pakistan currently lacks the satellite launch capability (that India has) but it's working on a Shaheen III design to serve as an SLV.

Pakistan has an active space program with many space scientists and engineers with advanced imaging and remote sensing, data collection and analysis for a variety of applications ranging from weather forecasting to resource management and others as follows:

crop estimation
Water resource management
Mitigation of natural disasters
Land use

Desertification studies
Vehicle tracking & fleet management Vehicle management
Environmental monitoring
Climate change

Here's an ET report on Supraco's plans for next satellite:

After the successful launch of the communication satellite PAKSAT-IR last year, the country’s space agency, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), is all set to launch an advanced high resolution remote sensing satellite system (RSSS) technology.

Expanding Pakistan’s presence in space for commercial and strategic purposes, SUPARCO, has sent a proposal to the government for financing of the RSSS project, through which the country can attain imaging facilities, currently used by advanced countries for surveying and mapping of earth.

As part of Space Programme 2040, the proposed satellite, next in the BADAR series, will carry a number of engineering evaluation and scientific experiments including those from Research and Development organisations, academic institutions and other national agencies.

Pakistan had launched its first satellite PAKSAT-1R in collaboration with neighboring country China.

PAKSAT-1R, that was launched in August last year has a design life of 15 years. It provides TV broadcasting, internet and data communication services across South and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, East Africa and the Far East.

PAKSAT-1R project was completed by SUPARCO with the cooperation of China’s Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

Here's APP report on Pak-China space cooperation:

BEIJING, JUNE 24 (APP): Pakistan and China are actively and practically cooperating in space technology, said Ms. Wu Ping Spokesman for China Manned Space Engineering Programme here on Sunday. She expressed these views while responding to a question in a press conference she addressed to brief the media about the successful manual docking between the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and the orbiting Tiangong-1 lab module by three Chinese astronauts. It was the first such attempt in China’s history of space exploration.

Here's a Daily Times report on seismic monitoring in Pakistan:

KARACHI: The project to install new broadband seismic stations equipped with advance technology that was initiated following the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake to strengthen seismic monitoring system, has completed.
Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD) has planned to officially inaugurate these stations on May 16, 2013 in Islamabad. The existing ten broadband seismic stations are British technology and the new stations are based on Chinese technology.
Under the project, ten new broadband seismic stations were installed, bringing the total number to 20 in Pakistan. These new seismic stations, installed in Skardu, Charath, Tarbela, Islamabad, Salt Range Punjab, Fort Munro, Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahore and Nangarparkar, have been integrated with the existing seismic network of the PMD. The project aims at better monitoring of earthquakes and precise earthquake hazard assessment.
On October 8, 2005 an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, killing around 73,000 people and displacing 3.5million in its wake. Followed by the earthquake, when nations around the world were helping financially and were sending relief goods, China promised to strengthen the seismic monitoring system in Pakistan. Pak-China Seismograph Network was initiated and implemented by China Earthquake Network Centre (CENC) and China Earthquake Administration (CEA) to fulfil the promise.
Additionally, state of the art and advanced Very Broad Band (VBB) sensor has also been installed in PMD’s station located in Margla Hills, Islamabad, thus making Pakistan the only South Asian country in possession of this technology.
“This project is a great achievement and now Pakistan has 20 broadband stations, all connected via satellite,” said PMD Seismology Division Islamabad Director Zahid Rafi.
Most of these new broadband stations are installed either in northern areas or in Punjab, however, the coastline of Sindh and Balochistan was not considered in the project.
Pakistan has witnessed several tsunamigenic earthquakes in the past along the coast of the Arabian Sea in Sindh and Balochistan. Several experts forecast destructive tsunamis on these coastlines in the future due to the presence of Makran Subduction Zone or MSZ as the potential source in the region.
Despite these warnings, the Pakistani government has never considered installing the broadband seismometers on the coastal belt.
The PMD official data reveals that out of the existing ten broadband stations only two were installed on Sindh and Balochistan’s coasts; one in Turbat and another in Karachi. However, experts are of the view that due to the presence of MSZ these areas need more broadband stations.\04\06\story_6-4-2013_pg12_3

's first Inst of Space Tech (IST) student-built Cubesat iCUBE-1 satellite launched from Russia

Nagin Cox

NASA's Global Reach: Pakistan

Posted by Nagin Cox

I first realized how legendary NASA is worldwide when I was speaking in Turkey, and it was even more so in Pakistan. In many of the institutions I visited, I was the first American AND I was from NASA. That caused almost unbearable levels of excitement to develop in some schools. At the Institute of Space Technology in Islamabad, it was standing room only, and the students were asking their professors to cancel their lectures so they could attend my presentation. At some of the events, hundreds of students attended the presentation even though they were in exam weeks and classes were over. In one university in AJK Mirpur, the students spontaneously lined the halls and started clapping the minute I got out of the car. Their thirst for information and connections was palpable. As always, I tried not to be too gung-ho about NASA (I do not want to encourage a "brain drain"), but instead encouraged them to work to meet their own country’s needs. I would highlight the accomplishments of the Pakistani space agency, SUPARCO, and show the students that there are exciting things happening in science and engineering within their own borders and how much their skills and enthusiasm are needed in-country.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Monday successfully test-fired a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads far beyond the borders of its strategic rival India.

The Shaheen-III surface-to-surface missile splashed down in the Arabian Sea after flying 1,720 miles from its launching pad, the military said in a statement.

That’s more than double the maximum range required to hit a target anywhere in India but falls short of being able to reach Israel, located more than 2,100 miles away. Pakistan has said, however, that the strategic plans division of its military is technically capable of extending the reach of its Shaheen and Ghouri missiles programs beyond Monday’s test by adding solid or liquid-fuel engines.

Previously, Pakistan has restricted the range of its missile tests to about 900 miles, a distance that would allow it to target India but would not raise alarms in potentially threatened states like Israel, with which Pakistan has no diplomatic relations.


Pakistan’s government says its nuclear weapons program has been developed exclusively as a deterrent against India, with which it has fought two wars and four regionalized conflicts since the two countries gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

The commander of the Pakistani military’s strategic weapons division, Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat, said Monday’s test was conducted to validate various design and technical parameters of the Shaheen-III at maximum range.

He described the test as “a major step towards strengthening Pakistan’s deterrence capability,” an obvious allusion to India.

In December, India’s military conducted the first “user test” of its 2,500-mile-range Agni-IV, the first Indian ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads deep into Chinese territory. It is scheduled to be deployed in 2016 or 2017.

Scientists at India’s Defense Research and Development Organization on Jan. 31 carried out the first test-launch of the Agni-V, a 3,400-mile-range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching all of China from a mobile platform. It, too, has been fast-tracked for deployment by India’s strategic forces command in the next one to two years.

India fought a 1962 border war with China, and the two countries’ troops frequently skirmish along their disputed Himalayan border. China is also Pakistan’s closest ally, creating the prospect of a two-front conflict for India and fueling India’s push for parity with China’s older, more advanced nuclear weapons program.

Pakistan’s ballistic test Monday came a week after the resumption of diplomatic engagement with India, which called off talks in August to protest Pakistani consultations with politicians from the part of disputed Kashmir administered by India.

“Missile tests are actually the norm when it comes to Indo-Pak talks,” said Harsh V. Pant, a professor at King’s College London. “Every time the two states decide to talk, there is a tendency to show off their military muscle.”

India and Pakistan border forces exchanged automatic weapons and mortar fire last year in a series of confrontations that left several dozen soldiers and farmers killed and forced the evacuation of rice-farming villages on both sides of the border.

By October, the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers were no longer on speaking terms, and it fell upon their common ally, the United States, to break the ice.

During his January trip to India, President Barrack Obama used his friendship with Prime Minister Nirender Modi to push for a resumption of talks with Pakistan. Both before and after his visit to India, Obama telephoned Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, to inform on his discussions in New Delhi.

Modi subsequently telephoned Sharif in February to wish Pakistan luck at the ongoing world cup of cricket, a sport with fanatical followings in both countries. The call also set up a visit by India’s foreign secretary to Islamabad on March 3.

Read more here:

Pakistan has successfully tested Shaheen III ballistic missile with 1700 mile range. The intermediate range missile can hit deep inside India and Israel. Its multi-stage solid-fuel technology can also be used to launch satellites into space. It's the latest example of dual-use technology. ..Since the technology used in satellite launch vehicles (SLV) is virtually identical to that used in a ballistic missile, Shaheen 3, the latest enhancement to Shaheen series of missiles, is expected to boost Pakistan's space program as well.  Several nations, including India and Israel recently, have used same rocket motors for  both ballistic missiles and satellite launch vehicles (SLVs).  Israel's Shavit SLV and India's SLV-3 are examples of it.

The Institute of Space Technology (IST) celebrated its 10th commencement of class with the graduation of 152 students in the disciplines of aerospace, electrical and material science and engineering on Thursday.

President Mamnoon Hussain, who is also chancellor the university, was chief guest, said a press release.

While addressing the gathering, the president appreciated the efforts by the institute towards achieving academic excellence, adding it was the first university to focus on the applications of space research in a variety of areas while endeavouring to bring the nation at par with the international community.

He appreciated IST for working on projects of international significance like the ‘silk road project’ of the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), as well as the internationally funded International Foundation for Science (IFS) project.

He was impressed by the innovative and research-based projects of IST, which are being set as benchmarks.

He especially lauded the launching of the Geo-Spatial Research and Education Lab, an open-source for remote sensing and geo-informatics.

The chancellor conferred students with masters and baccalaureate degrees, and gave the President of Pakistan gold medals to Hafiz Zeeshan Iqbal Khan for aerospace engineering, Muhammad Abdullah Iqbal for electrical engineering, and Sajidullah Khan for materials science and engineering. The three students stood first in their respective programs.

The vice-chancellor’s medals for best final year projects were awarded to Hafiz Zeeshan Iqbal Khan and Arsalan Ahmad for aerospace engineering, to Muhammad Abdullah Iqbal and Usama Islam for electrical engineering, and to Junailur Rehman for materials science and engineering.

Projects by graduating students were also shown to the gathering.

Though a young institute, IST is ranked amongst the top engineering universities in the nation, the release said.

Hurdles in Pakistan’s Quest for Reaching Space

Though Pakistan is a developing state but it never shied away from pursuing ambitious technological pursuits. Pakistan’s space program “Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO)” established in 1961, is an example that as a nation importance of space exploration is not lost on state. Pakistan was the first country among its regional neighbors to pursue space program. However, these glittering generalities are part of the past that Pakistan witnessed regarding space satellites. Currently Pakistan is lagging in space program. In this day and age Pakistan has yet to launch remote sensing satellite in space which is essential in monitoring, recording change and in intelligence gathering as well.

Contrary to Pakistan its neighbor India which initiated its space program 8 years later, is now a record holder of sending more than 100 commercial and national satellites in one go. Furthermore, India has so far launched more than 100 satellites and establishes its network of satellites not only for commercial purposes but for military purposes as well. At the moment, India is using its 13 satellites for military purposes including Cartosat 1 and 2, Risat 1 and 2 and GSAT-7 or INSAT-4F for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over enemy areas.

The fact that India is also a developing country where the population is increasing and resources are becoming scarce by the day, is thought compelling. It is evident that by being mindful of military and economic benefits of space exploration India never gave up on its progress in arena of space technology. Significant contribution to India’s space program came from the development of strategic ties with the US and consequently its accession to MTCR and Wassenaar Arrangement. It’s beyond any reasonable doubt that India’s space program achieved its glorious heights after making strategic ties with the US.

International support received by India is one of the significant reasons behind robust success of its space program but the same is not the reason behind slow pace of Pakistan’s space program.

There are several contributing factors behind inactive space program that Pakistan is running. One of the biggest technical short comings Pakistan is still facing in its space satellite program is the dearth of launching vehicle for space satellite. The satellite launch vehicle enables a state to enter its payload into an outer orbit from earth’s surface through the help of carrier rocket. Recent telecommunication and digital satellite launched by Pakistan utilized China’s assistance. So, the biggest short coming in technical sphere is absence of satellite launch vehicle. Pakistan is a state with sufficient man power but needs financial sources to build satellite launch vehicles.

To reserve finances for space program it is essential that government builds state narrative on importance of space exploration as satellites are not only essential for military purposes but is also a growing industry. In a time where super power is governing international system through the help of information technology and globalization has massive effects on state affairs, space satellites are becoming economic opportunity to be seized. So far in South Asia only country which is tapping space is India and thus seizing all the economic benefits along with military benefits. Economic benefits of the space exploration are undeniable; states providing launch facilities to the host space satellites earn huge revenue for providing the launch facilities. At the moment, India is only South Asian regional player which is hosting commercial satellite and is even providing services to companies like Google.


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