China & Pakistan sign deal on new communications satellite PakSat-MM1

Image courtesy of CGWIC.

Last Thursday, China and Pakistan signed an agreement for a gapfiller satellite which will be the future PakSat Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat-MM1).

Under the agreement, China will develop PakSat-MMI, and most probably provide launch services and operate the satellite as well, since China tends to provide end-to-end services. The satellite will provide Direct To Home (DTH) services, along with other uses that have not been mentioned.

The deal was signed between the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), which is the Chinese space programme’s international commercial arm, and Pakistan’s space agency, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).

According to Pakistani officials, PakSat-MM1 will be a geostationary satellite, and that the orbital slot has already been secured. The issue of orbital slots is of particular concern to Pakistan, which saw a spate of orbital slot crises in the 1990s and early 2000s; in 2001, it was forced to lease Indonesia’s Palapa-C1 due to an inability to secure a slot for its PakSat-1E satellite.

China and Pakistan have had a long-standing relationship in space, beginning with China’s launch Pakistan’s first communications satellite, Badr-1A, in 1990. In 2011, China launched PakSat-1R, which was built and launched by China, and which is still operational today. Later this year, Pakistan is expected to launch Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRS), a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite. The satellite, which will presumably be launched by China, will be used to monitor projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

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