Pakistan Gears Up for the Launch of Its First Moon Mission, ICUBE-Q

Pakistan is set to make a significant mark in the field of space exploration with its historic lunar mission, ICUBE-Q. The mission is scheduled for launch on Friday, May 3, 2024, aboard China’s Chang’E6 spacecraft from Hainan, China.

The ICUBE-Q satellite, a product of a collaboration between the Institute of Space Technology (IST), China’s Shanghai University SJTU, and Pakistan’s national space agency SUPARCO, is a testament to Pakistan’s growing capabilities in space technology. The satellite carries two optical cameras designed to image the lunar surface.

Following successful qualification and testing, ICUBE-Q has been integrated with the Chang’e6 mission. Chang’e6, the sixth in a series of China’s lunar exploration missions, will touch down on the moon’s far side to collect samples from the surface and return to Earth for research.

The mission holds great significance for Pakistan as it will also take a Pakistan CubeSat Satellite iCube-Q, developed by IST. CubeSats are miniature satellites typically characterized by their small size and standardized design. They are constructed in a cubic shape, consisting of modular components that adhere to specific size constraints.

These satellites often weigh no more than a few kilograms and are deployed in space for various purposes. The primary purpose of cubesats is to facilitate scientific research, technology development, and educational initiatives in space exploration.

Due to their compact size and relatively low cost compared to traditional satellites, CubeSats offer opportunities for universities, research institutions, and commercial entities to participate in space missions and gather valuable data for scientific advancement and innovation.

The Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), the national space agency of Pakistan, has been involved in space technology since it was established in 1961. In fact, Pakistan launched its first rocket, Rehbar-1, in June 1962, becoming the third state in Asia to do so.

Pakistan’s first space mission was planned for 2022. However, the upcoming lunar mission with the ICUBE-Q satellite is indeed a significant milestone as it marks Pakistan’s first satellite mission to the moon. This mission showcases the growing capabilities of Pakistan in space technology and exploration.

The launch activity will be telecast live on the IST website and IST social media platforms. This mission marks a significant step for Pakistan in joining the global space community and contributing to lunar research.

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