Pakistan seems to be in a mood to catch up with India in space. They have just announced an ambitious plan to launch a manned mission by 2022. This comes just months after ISRO also made plans to launch its own manned mission to space in 2022. Indian had sent its first astronaut Rakesh Sharma to space aboard Russian Soyuz T-11 in April 1984.
The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) has signed an agreement with a Chinese space company to collaborate with them on this mission, said Pakistan's information minister Fawad Chaudhry, reports said. The federal Cabinet of Pakistan, in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan approved of this plan on Thursday, just ahead of Khan's first official visit to Beijing scheduled for next month.
Currently, India is planning to send Indian astronauts in orbit by 2022, which if successful, would make India only the fourth country after Russia, the US, and China in 2003, to launch their own astronauts to space.
"We have resolved that by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of Independence or maybe even before that, certainly some of our young boys and girls will unfurl the Tricolour in space," Modi said in his independence Day 2018 speech.
Pakistan launched its first indigenously built satellites into orbit, also with Chinese help. Two satellites were placed aboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, in the Gobi desert. Of the two satellites launched, one was a remote sensing, a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite—PRSS1. The second one was the PAK-TES-1A, a test satellite, notes the report.
India's manned mission will involve a collaboration with France for Gaganyaan. This announcement was made at the Bengaluru space expo where France's space agency CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall was also present in September this year. This came after Modi made his speech on Indendence Day.
Infrastructure required for testing for the mission is already in development, but as for the launch vehicle, details are still not clear if it will be a whole new platform or be a repurposed GSLV, or if it will take the help of private companies like SpaceX.