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First Pak astronaut will go into space in 2022 with China's help: Minister

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ISLAMABAD (PTI): Pakistan would send a human to space for the first time in 2022 with China's help, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced Thursday, ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to Beijing to further cement the “all-weather” strategic cooperative partnership.

Pakistan's first space mission has been planned for 2022 and the federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Khan approved the plan on Thursday, he was quoted as saying by The News.

An agreement between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and a Chinese company has already been signed, the report said.

Pakistan and China already have robust defence ties and Islamabad is one of the top buyers of Chinese military hardware.

Earlier this year, Pakistan launched two indigenously built satellites into orbit, using a Chinese launch vehicle.

The satellites were launched onboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, China.

One of the satellites launched was a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1), a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite.

The second test satellite launched was a PAK-TES-1A, developed by SUPARCO to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country which would help end Pakistan's dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture.

The satellites were transported to China as Pakistan lacks the infrastructure to launch objects, the Express Tribune quoted an official as saying.

China launched its first manned space mission in 2003, becoming the third country in the world to independently develop manned spaceflight, after Russia and the United States.

Prime Minister Khan is embarking on his first visit to China on November 3 and will hold meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, Geo News quoted the Foreign Office as saying.

During the visit the two sides will review the entire range of bilateral relations which have enjoyed a long history of mutual trust and mutual support. The two sides will also sign several agreements in diverse fields, the Foreign Office statement added.

This will be the premier's first official visit to China after assuming office in August.

The visit signifies the closeness and traditional warmth which characterises Pakistan-China all weather strategic cooperative partnership, the statement added.

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