Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO)

The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is an executive and bureaucratic space agency of the Government of Pakistan, responsible for the nation's public and civil space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. Its mission statement and objective is to conduct peaceful research in space technology and promote the technology for socio-economic uplift of the country. SUPARCO is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan and operates one communications satellite and various experimental satellites in orbit. Their communications satellite, PAKSAT-1R was launched in August 2011. SUPARCO has its TT&C facilities in Lahore and Islamabad, Pakistan.


SUPARCO was established on September 16th in 1961 by an executive order of President of Pakistan, it is headquartered in Karachi, Sindh Province of Pakistan. Part of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) of Pakistan Armed Forces, which is currently headquartered at the Chakalala Military District under the control of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) the space program recorded number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight during the initial years of its establishment.

Since its establishment, SUPARCO has achieved numerous milestones, including the first successful spaceflight of country's first weather expendable launch rocket, Rehbar-I.
The country's first satellite, Badr-I, was built by SUPARCO and launched by China in 1990. However, the space program suffered many setbacks, difficulties, and problems that partly slowed down the progress of the space program. The bureaucratic influence and politicization further lagged the space program and the superior authorities canceled many projects. Rehbar-II was also successfully launched from Sonmiani Rocket Range on 09 June 1962.

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. Over the years, SUPARCO expanded and had several well-expanded installations all over the country as assets, and cooperates in peaceful use of space technology with the international community as a part of several bilateral and multilateral agreements.

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 Program of Space Science and Technology in Pakistan, submitted by SUPARCO, which contained projects of national importance.

On 16 July 1990, Pakistan launched its first experimental satellite BADR-1. SUPARCO launched their second experimental satellite BADR-B on 10 Dec 2001.

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PAKSAT-1 (Palapa-C1, Anatolia-1, HGS-3)

Orbital Position: 38° E
Manufacturer: Hughes Satellite Systems (Boeing CSS)
Launch date: 01 Feb 1996
Launch Operator: Lockheed Martin (United Launch Alliance - ULA)
Launch vehicle: Atlas IIAS
Expected lifetime: 15 years

Note: PT Indosat Palapa-C1 satellite suffered from technical problems. Indonesia declared the satellite as unusable and transferred it back to Hughes who renamed it in HGS-3 before leasing it to Turkey as Anatolia-1. SUPARCO acquired the spacecraft from Hughes for full lease and renamed it in PAKSAT-1. The satellite was retired in 2011.


Orbital Position: 38° E
Manufacturer: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

Launch date: 11 Aug 2011
Launch Operator: China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC)
Launch vehicle: Long March LM-3B/E
Expected lifetime: 15 years

Note: Replaced the retired PAKSAT-1 satellite that was leased from Boeing (Hughes).