According to a white paper on space released by the Chinese government on Friday, China would prioritize the construction of a space center and the development of communication satellites for partner Pakistan over the next five years.
While China and Pakistan have an agreement on space exploration, this is the first time China has publicly confirmed that it will assist Islamabad in the construction of a space center, the Pakistan Space Centre, which will most likely be used to develop satellites.
The strategic partners have tight economic and military relations, with China recently delivering new warships to Pakistan.
China’s space plans for the years 2021-25 were outlined in the policy paper, which included strengthening governance and protecting “its space activities, assets, and other interests,” as well as studying plans to build “a near-earth object defense system, and increase the capacity of near-earth object monitoring.”
China’s State Council Information Office produced a white paper titled “China’s Space Program: A 2021 Perspective.”
The report underlined its efforts to assist Pakistan in building its space program under the heading “international cooperation.” The strategy paper said that “it (China) will prioritize developing communications satellites for Pakistan and cooperating on the construction of the Pakistan Space Centre and Egypt’s Space City.”
It did not provide any further information on the space center.
According to a report by Pakistan’s state-owned Associated Press, Pakistan announced intentions in 2018 to construct the Pakistan Space Centre (PSC) to spearhead indigenous satellite research and manufacture.
According to the APP article, the PSC will be capable of manufacture, testing, system level assembly, integration, launch, and operations of numerous types of satellites.
In the previous five years, China has completed “in-orbit delivery of the Pakistan Remote-Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1)” as well as providing satellites to Venezuela, Sudan, and Algeria, according to the Chinese strategy document.
The PRSS 1 spacecraft was developed in China for Pakistan’s national space agency, SUPARCO, or Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, by DFH Satellite Company, a subsidiary of the China Academy of Space Technology.