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China launches Pakistan's first communications satellite

August 12, 2011 - Islamabad

Pakistan's first communications satellite PAKSAT-1R has been launched on board China's Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan province.

PAKSAT-1R, a part of Pakistan's Space Programme 2040, will orbit at 23,000 miles above the surface of the earth, and is expected to enhance the broadcast and broadband capabilities of the country.

The geostationary satellite has a design life of 15 years and will provide TV broadcasting, Internet and data communication services across South and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, East Africa and the Far East.

However, some scientists question whether Pakistan's so-called space programme is on the right track, saying that what Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) has achieved today could have been done 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, Suparco has kept mum about the cost of the multi-million dollar project. Sources within PAKSAT say that at the moment, China has borne the entire cost, which has to be paid back, The Express Tribune reports.

The China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) had been nominated as PAKSAT-1R's chief contractor after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement in October 2008. The company was made responsible for the design, manufacturing, final assembly, testing and launch of the satellite.


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