The Platform


The launch of PakSAT-MM1 marks a significant milestone in Pakistan’s digital transformation and space collaboration with China.

SUPARCO, Pakistan’s space agency, has launched PakSAT-MM1, marking the nation’s second satellite launch in a month. This significant event, executed from China’s Sichuan province, is a pivotal milestone in Pakistan’s technical advancement and digital transformation journey.

PakSAT-MM1 is more than just a satellite; it symbolizes a beacon of progress for Pakistan. This multi-mission satellite is designed to deliver a range of communication services nationwide. According to SUPARCO, PakSAT-MM1 incorporates advanced communication technologies that have the potential to revolutionize Pakistan’s socio-economic landscape. The agency’s website states that the satellite will play a crucial role in the country’s digital transformation by providing high-speed Internet, enhanced TV broadcasts, and improved cellular connections.

The successful launch of PakSAT-MM1 exemplifies the enduring and evolving space collaboration between Beijing and Islamabad, which began in 1990. The launch of Pakistan’s first lunar satellite, ICUBE-Q, atop a Chinese rocket in May, is a testament to this partnership. The ICUBE-Q satellite, a collaborative effort between Pakistan’s Institute of Space Technology, SUPARCO, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, captured its first image of the moon on May 8, heralding a new era in Pakistan’s space exploration.

Ge Ping, the deputy director of the China National Space Administration’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre, highlighted the significance of this partnership. He emphasized that these cooperative projects not only strengthen the friendship between China and Pakistan but also contribute to a deeper global understanding of space. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif echoed these sentiments, describing the China-Pakistan relationship as “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the oceans, and sweeter than honey.” Sharif noted that this bond has now transcended terrestrial boundaries to reach the stars.

The launch of PakSAT-MM1 is more than a scientific triumph; it is a strategic move to bolster Pakistan’s communication infrastructure and reduce reliance on foreign satellites. At five tonnes and equipped with cutting-edge communication technologies, PakSAT-MM1 is poised to provide high-speed Internet access to every corner of the country. This is particularly crucial for remote and underdeveloped areas, aligning with Pakistan’s digital transformation goals.

PakSAT-MM1 is set to support the upcoming rollout of 5G technology, addressing the growing demand for rapid Internet access and reliable communications. This satellite not only promises improvements in Internet service quality but also signifies the dawn of a new era in Pakistan’s space exploration, spearheaded by SUPARCO.

The implications of PakSAT-MM1 extend beyond immediate technological benefits. The satellite will enhance Internet access, facilitate e-commerce, boost economic activity, and support e-governance initiatives. This aligns with the government’s vision of a digital Pakistan, where modern communication infrastructure underpins economic success and social progress.

Moreover, the launch of PakSAT-MM1 solidifies Pakistan’s status in the international space community. It showcases the nation’s advancing space technology capabilities and its commitment to leveraging these advancements for national development. With the successful deployment of PakSAT-1R in 2011 and now PakSAT-MM1, Pakistan is steadily building a robust space program that promises significant returns in the years ahead.

Pakistan’s space ambitions are closely tied to its strategic cooperation with China. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), underscores this connection. The collaboration in space technology, including recent satellite launches, is a continuation of this alliance, often referred to as the “Space Silk Road.” China aims to link its BRI partners through the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), offering an alternative to the United States GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, and the European Galileo systems.

Pakistan’s transition to BDS in 2018 enhanced its navigation and tracking capabilities for both commercial and military purposes. This shift underscores the strategic depth of the China-Pakistan partnership and the pivotal role of space technology in this alliance.

The launch of PakSAT-MM1 heralds an exciting era for Pakistan. As the satellite undergoes various tests to verify its health and performance in orbit, the nation eagerly awaits the commencement of its services in August. The successful deployment of PakSAT-MM1 is set to significantly boost Pakistan’s communication infrastructure, supporting its digital aspirations and fostering socio-economic development.

The story of PakSAT-MM1 is one of ambition, collaboration, and progress. It highlights Pakistan’s determination to harness space technology for national development and its commitment to deepening strategic ties with China. As Pakistan continues to explore the final frontier, the launch of PakSAT-MM1 exemplifies the potential of international cooperation and technological innovation.

Waleed Sami is pursuing a Master's degree in Strategic Studies at the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS), affiliated with the prestigious National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad. He holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from National Defence University Islamabad (NDU).