Saturday, May 25, 2024

Pakistan Launches First Lunar Mission On China’s Wings

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ICUBE-Q orbiter carries two optical cameras to image the lunar surface.


Pakistan’s debut lunar satellite mission was launched Friday on board China’s first lunar probe mission to collect samples from the far side of the Moon.

The 53-day-long Chang’e-6 mission will collect samples for the first time from the far side of the moon and bring them for scientific studies. This is the first time that China has included an orbiter from its all-weather ally Pakistan in its moon mission.

According to the Institute of Space Technology (IST), Pakistan’s ICUBE-Q satellite has been designed and developed by IST in collaboration with China’s Shanghai University SJTU and Pakistan’s national space agency Suparco.

ICUBE-Q orbiter carries two optical cameras to image the lunar surface. The Chang’e-6 mission is tasked with collecting and then returning samples from the moon’s far side to Earth — the first endeavour of its kind in the history of human lunar exploration.

Following the launch, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated the nation and the scientists for launching the first lunar orbit mission.

In a statement, Sharif said the ICUBE-Q satellite is Pakistan’s first step into space. “Just as in the nuclear field, our scientists, engineers, and talented individuals are diligently striving in this field,” he said.

“This achievement will bolster Pakistan’s satellite communication capabilities and pave the way for new opportunities in scientific research, economic development, and national security,” the prime minister said.

Congratulating students and scientists on the launch of the lunar orbital mission, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar posted on X, “Today’s launch from Hainan in China, is a good example of countries and organisations coming together for space cooperation and shared benefits. It shows the promise of Pakistani youth.” Quoting IST Core Committee member Dr Khurram Khurshid, Geo News reported that CubeSat Satellite iCUBE-Q will reach the lunar orbit in five days and will circle the moon for three to six months.

He added that different pictures of the surface of the moon will be taken with the help of the satellite after which Pakistan will have its own satellite images of the moon for research.

CubeSats are miniature satellites typically characterised by their small size and standardised design. They are constructed in a cubic shape, consisting of modular components that adhere to specific size constraints. These satellites often weigh no more than a few kilogrammes and are deployed in space for various purposes.

The primary purpose of CubeSats is to facilitate scientific research, technology development, and educational initiatives in space exploration.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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