Pakistan’s Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, has confirmed that the country will send its first astronaut into space within three years, with assistance from China.
The Pakistani Air Forces will play a key role in the selection process, from an initial list of 50 candidates that will then be reduced by half, to finally reach the last selected one. The minister did not mention until a specific date for the launch.
Last July the minister wrote a ‘tweet’ in which he announced the start of the space program, mentioning the astronaut’s selection process. “This will be the biggest space event in our history,” Chaudhry said.
In 2011, the country launched its first communications satellite with the help of a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. As on that previous occasion, Pakistan will use China’s satellite launch facility, since it does not have its own facilities.
India, Pakistan’s biggest rival in the region, was able to send a first astronaut into space (Rakesh Sharma)in 1984 as part of the Intercosmos program directed by the USSR.