China and Pakistan have signed agreement for co-operation in space exploration. It was signed during visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to China for 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF). The agreement marks new phase in space science cooperation including manned missions between all-weather allies.
China-Pak Space agreement
- It will serve as high-level foundation for cooperation in space science and exploration.
- Under it, China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission will establish China-Pakistan space committee chaired by top officials from both sides to address future collaborative issues.
- Both space agencies will conduct scientific and technological experiments, astronaut training, along with manned space applications and achievement transformation.
Benefits of space cooperation
It will help Pakistan in terms of satellite monitoring of agricultural production, land and resources surveying, natural disasters and waste handling in microgravity environment. It will also benefit China from cooperation, including for commercial applications of space technology, investment security and counter-terrorism.
- China has good track record of advanced space programme with successful manned missions besides exploration missions to Moon.
- China is also building its space station which is expected to be ready by 2022. It has also unveiled plans to send spacecraft to Mars and Jupiter.
- Since, Pakistan is China's all-weather friend, China is willing to provide know-how and technological support to foster Pakistan's technological development on peaceful use of outer space.
- In 2018, China had sent two Pakistan satellites into orbit viz. PRSS-1 (Pakistan's first optical remote sensing satellite) and PakTES-1A (smaller observation crft) on-board Long March-2C carrier rocket.
- This space agreement signifies that cooperation between China and Pakistan is not limited to infrastructure and resources, but it also concerns technology and innovation.
India’s ASAT Missile test
The space agreement between China and Pakistan also comes close on heels of recent India's successful Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile test in March 2019. This successful test had made India fourth country in the world after US, Russia and China to acquire the strategic capability to shoot down enemy satellites. China had successfully tested its anti-satellite missile in January 2007 by destroying its ageing weather satellite.