The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
(SUPARCO) was founded in 1961.
- In 1961, on the advice of Prof. Abdus Salam, the then Scientific Adviser to the President of Pakistan, it was decided to set
up a Committee dealing with space sciences. Consequently, a Space Sciences Research Wing of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
was established through an Executive Order of the President of Pakistan dated 16 September 1961, which was addressed to Dr I H Usmani,
the then Chairman PAEC. The programme of rocket firings was entrusted to Chairman PAEC. Initially the Space Sciences Research Wing had
the following members:
- Prof Abdus Salam, FRS - Chairman
- Dr I H Usmani, Chairman PAEC - Vice-Chairman
- Mr Sibte Nabi Naqvi, Director, Pakistan Meteorological Department - Member
- Dr Innas Ali, Member PAEC - Member
- In September 1961, Mr Tariq Mustafa, Principal Engineer , PAEC ; Mr Salim Mehmud, Scientific Officer PAEC; Mr Sikandar Zaman,
Assistant Engineer PAEC; Mr A Z Farooqi, Scientific Officer PAEC; and Mr M Rehmatullah, Regional Director, Pakistan Meteorological
Department were sent to NASA for training in rocket launching.
- On 07 June 1962 at 1953 hours the two-stage rocket: Rehbar-I consisting of a Nike-Cajun combination (which was earlier developed by
NASA) was successfully launched from Sonmiani Rocket Range. It carried a payload of 80 pounds of sodium and soared to about 130 km into
the atmosphere. With the launching of Rehbar-I, Pakistan had the honour of becoming the third country in Asia and the tenth in the
world to conduct such a launching. The other countries, which had, until then, already conducted launchings of this type were: USA,
USSR, UK, France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Japan and Israel. Rehbar-II was also successfully launched from Sonmiani Rocket Range on 09
- The data received from Rehbar-I and Rehbar-II gave scientists information on wind shear and structure in the layers of the upper
atmosphere extending beyond the stratosphere. The data collected also helped in the study of cloud formation, cyclones and weather over
the Arabian Sea.
- A high-powered meeting was held on 25 July 1964 under the Chairmanship of the then President of Pakistan. A number of decisions
were taken in that meeting including the placement of SUPARCO under the direct control of the President of Pakistan. A three-tier structure
was thus created consisting of (a) the Governing Body; (b) the Executive Committee; and (c) the Technical Committee to take care of and
run SUPARCO's affairs. SUPARCO started functioning independent of PAEC with effect from 16 September 1964 with Dr I H Usmani looking
after its affairs as its Co-Chairman.
- The structure of SUPARCO was superseded by a Government of Pakistan Resolution dated 8 March 1966 whereby SUPARCO was constituted
as a separate organisation under the administrative control of Scientific and Technological Research Division (S&TR), Government of
Pakistan and a revised constitution for SUPARCO was adopted in the shape of "Rules of SUPARCO" issued by S&TR Division on 19 April 1967.
Air Cdre W J M Turowicz was appointed as the first Executive Director of SUPARCO (Air Cdre Turowicz was a Polish national who served in
the Royal Air Force in India in WW-II and after the war, he was among those Polish Air Force Pilots who opted for Pakistan's nationality).
- In 1970, after the retirement of Air Cdre Turowicz, Air Cdre K M Ahmed was appointed as SUPARCO's second Executive Director who
relieved his charge in 1976 to Mr Salim Mehmud, who remained Executive Director of SUPARCO until 15 December 1979 when he resigned the
service of SUPARCO. Dr M Shafi Ahmed succeeded Mr Salim Mehmud and remained in office till 15 December 1980 when the President of Pakistan
appointed Mr Salim Mehmud as Chief Executive Officer of SUPARCO and asked him to submit necessary recommendations for up-gradation of
SUPARCO to the status of a full-fledged Commission.
- On 22 April 1981, Mr Salim Mehmud was appointed as the first Chairman of Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission
- The President of Pakistan signed and promulgated SUPARCO Ordinance No. XX of 1981, which was issued in the Gazette of Pakistan on
21 May 1981, to provide for the establishment of a Space Research Council (SRC), an Executive Committee of the Space Research Council
(ECSRC) and the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), granting SUPARCO an autonomous status. The then
Chairman SUPARCO established three Technical Wings namely; Space Technology Wing, Space Research Wing and Space Electronics Wing. The
National Assembly, ratified SUPARCO Ordinance vide Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Amendment) Act, 1987-Act
No. II of 1987, providing for, inter alia, the replacement of President of Pakistan with the Prime Minister of Pakistan as the President
of Space Research Council.
- SUPARCO remained under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division until September 2000 for almost 20 years. During this
period, only one meeting of the SRC (headed by the President of Pakistan) and 13 meetings of ECSRC (headed by the Federal Minister for
Finance) were held. The last meeting of ECSRC was held on 09 September 1999. The SRC, in its first-ever meeting held on 24 December
1984, approved the Long-Term Development Programme of Space Science and Technology in Pakistan, submitted by SUPARCO, which contained
projects of national importance.
- Mr Salim Mehmud retired on 13 April 1989 and Dr M Shafi Ahmed took over as the second Chairman of SUPARCO. On 16 July 1990, Pakistan
launched its first experimental satellite BADR-1.
- Dr M Shafi Ahmed retired on 16 October 1990 and handed over the charge of the Office to Mr Sikandar Zaman who retired on 19 June
1997. Dr Abdul Majid was appointed Chairman with effect from 20 June 1997.
- On 10 December 2000, the Cabinet Division issued an Office Order No. 564, through its Notification No. 5/11/2000-Admin.II., whereby,
in pursuance of the order of the Chief Executive of Pakistan, SUPARCO Commission was transferred from Cabinet Division to the National
Command Authority (NCA); the Space Research Council and Executive Committee of Space Research Council were dissolved and were replaced
with Development Control Committee (DCC) of NCA.
- On his retirement on 30 April 2001, Dr Abdul Majid handed over the charge of the Office of Chairman SUPARCO to Mr Raza Hussain.
- SUPARCO launched the second experimental satellite BADR-B on 10 Dec 2001 and is continuously working towards developing indigenous
capabilities in satellite development.
- Mr Raza Hussain retired on 31 August 2010 and handed over the charge to Maj Gen Ahmed Bilal.
Pakistan's National Satellite Development Programme (NSDP) is one of the major tasks entrusted to SUPARCO . The NSDP includes:
- Communication Satellite:
Pakistan has a leased satellite, PAKSAT-1, in the 38 degree East longitude geostationary orbit. The government of Pakistan has
granted approval for the replacement of PAKSAT-1 by a new communication satellite PAKSAT 1R by 2011. SUPARCO has also developed a
prototype of a communication satellite named Prototype PAKSAT-1R and is now developing an Engineering Qualification Model (EQM).
- Remote Sensing Satellite System (RSSS):
- After successful launching and operation of BADR series of experimental satellites (BADR-1 and BADR-B) in the 1990s and early
2000s, SUPARCO now plans to launch high resolution remote sensing satellite system (RSSS) to meet the national and international user
requirements in the field of satellite imagery.
- A feasibility and system definition study was concluded in January 2007 which recommended the launch of a constellation of Optical
and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Satellites to ensure that the domestic and international user requirements are competitively met.
In this respect the RFP for RSSS consultancy services was launched in July 2007. Launch of RFP for the manufacturing of the satellite
is planned in the third quarter of year 2008.
- RSSS is planned to be a progressive and sustainable program. Initially, SUPARCO plans to launch an optical satellite with payload
of 2.5 meter PAN in 700 km sun-synchronous orbit by the end of year 2011, which will be followed by a series of optical and SAR satellites
in future. Necessary infrastructure for ground control and image reception and processing is also planned to be setup.
- Human Resource Development
Ref: #www.suparco.gov.pk - update: 02.03.12