iCube Qamar: Pakistan's historic moon mission launched

The launch of iCube Qamar was streamed live on the IST website
China’s most powerful rocket as seen in this photo. — CGTN
China’s most powerful rocket as seen in this photo. — CGTN

Pakistan took a giant leap into space exploration as its first lunar mission, iCube Qamar, blasted off today (Friday) aboard China's Chang'e 6 spacecraft. This marks a significant moment for the nation's space programme.

The satellite left for its space mission at 2:18pm (Pakistan time) and the launch was streamed live on the IST website starting at 12:50pm, allowing everyone to witness this historic event.

Dr Khurram Khurshid, a core committee member at the Institute of Space Technology (IST) — which played a key role in developing iCube Qamar — elaborated on the mission's trajectory, stating, "Pakistan's satellite mission will reach the lunar orbit in five days and will circle the moon for three to six months." This extended lunar stay promises valuable opportunities for scientific observation.

Equipped with two powerful optical cameras, iCube Qamar will capture detailed images of the moon's surface. These pictures will be a major milestone for Pakistan, as they will be the first set of lunar images obtained by a Pakistani satellite.

The collaborative effort behind this mission is noteworthy. IST joined forces with China's Shanghai University and Pakistan's national space agency, SUPARCO, to design and develop iCube Qamar.

While China's Chang'e 6 mission aims to collect lunar samples from the far side of the moon, iCube Qamar, a CubeSat satellite, will piggyback on this mission, adding a Pakistani dimension to this exciting lunar exploration endeavor.

CubeSats: Miniature marvels in space

For those unfamiliar with CubeSats, they are essentially miniaturised satellites known for their compact size and standardized design. These cubic wonders, built with modular components, typically weigh just a few kilograms and can be deployed for various space-based purposes.

Playing a vital role in scientific research, technology development, and educational space programmes, CubeSats are a valuable tool for furthering our understanding of the cosmos.

The launch of iCube Qamar marks a new chapter for Pakistan's space exploration journey. This mission not only represents a significant scientific achievement but also inspires future generations to reach for the stars.