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ISLAMABAD: In a landmark first, Pakistan’s lunar mission — ICUBE-Qamar — was launched from China’s Hainan province on Friday.

According to Pakistan’s Institute of Space Technology (IST), the satellite ICUBE-Q has been designed and developed by the IST in collaboration with China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), and support from Pakistan’s national space agency SUPARCO (Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission).

Speaking to Business Recorder, Professor Dr Khurram Khurshid, the Core Team Member ICUBE-Q, said, the satellite has been designed to revolve around the Moon to gather key scientific information including lunar images and relevant data.

“This information will help us develop more space projects on a bigger scale in future,” he told this correspondent.

The unmanned ICUBE-Q will take five days to reach its destination and will have a lifespan of six months minimum, he said.

An official statement from the IST said the Cube Satellite ICUBE- Q in lunar orbit onboard the China’s Chang’E-6 mission was launched from Wenchang Space Launch Site, Hainan, China.

The opportunity to release CubeSat in lunar orbit from Chang-E’6 mission was offered by China National Space Agency (CNSA) through Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO) to APSCO member states, stated the IST.

After thorough evaluation, Pakistan’s proposal was accepted out of all APSCO member states, it said.

Design, development and qualification of ICUBE-Q was led by faculty members and students of the IST in collaboration with SJTU and SUPARCO, the IST statement said.

CubeSats are a class of small satellites used by academic institutes for experimental and research purposes in low Earth orbits, generally with an altitude of less than 1000 kilometres, the IST said.

However, the statement said, these satellites are now finding many applications in higher orbits and deep space missions.

It said, the Moon is in an elliptical orbit at an average distance of around 384,000 km from the Earth which makes it challenging to communicate with and control small satellites.

ICUBE-Q is carrying two cameras as payload for imaging lunar surface and Earth/ Moon images from lunar orbit besides having 3-axis attitude control for desired orientation, onboard computer, hermal control, telemetry and telecommand and payload data communication modules for connecting through deep space network, the IST said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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M. AliM May 04, 2024 05:53am
Headline is misleading. It is China that launched this rocket to the moon.
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