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Friday, May 17, 2024

Pakistan’s iCube Qamar enters lunar orbit

Pakistan celebrates a historic milestone in space exploration as its inaugural lunar mission, iCube Qamar, successfully enters lunar orbit.

Pakistan celebrates a historic milestone in space exploration as its inaugural lunar mission, iCube Qamar, successfully enters lunar orbit. Led by the Institute of Space Technology (IST) in collaboration with esteemed partners, this achievement marks a significant leap forward in Pakistan’s space capabilities.

Deployment and Mission Overview

Dr. Khurram Khurshid, a pivotal member of the core team at IST, announced the successful deployment of iCube Qamar at 1:14 pm PST on May 8th. The satellite, aboard China’s Chang’e-6 mission, embarked on its journey from Hainan, China, on May 3rd. With an anticipated mission duration of three to six months, iCube Qamar is set to orbit the moon, capturing high-resolution images of targeted lunar terrains.

Read More: Pakistan’s Lunar Ambition: ICUBE-Q Lifts Off on Historic Mission

Collaborative Efforts and Technical Features

The development of iCube Qamar epitomizes international collaboration, with contributions from China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and Pakistan’s national space agency, Suparco. This joint effort emphasizes the spirit of cooperation in advancing space exploration.

Equipped with two optical cameras, iCube Qamar is poised to provide invaluable insights into lunar geography. Its integration with China’s Chang’e-6 mission, after rigorous testing and qualification, amplifies its scientific potential. Advanced features such as 3-axis altitude control, onboard computing, and thermal regulation highlight the sophistication of Pakistan’s space technology.

Expanding Role of CubeSats in Deep Space Exploration

Traditionally confined to low Earth orbits, CubeSats are now venturing into deep space missions, transcending previous limitations. iCube Qamar’s inclusion in the Chang’e-6 mission signifies a paradigm shift in the utilization of small satellites for lunar exploration. This expansion of CubeSat applications heralds a new era of innovation and discovery in space exploration.

Overcoming Challenges

Navigating the complexities of lunar orbits presents formidable challenges in communication and control. Despite these hurdles, iCube Qamar’s successful deployment highlights the resilience and adaptability of Pakistan’s space program. Through strategic partnerships and meticulous planning, Pakistan has demonstrated its ability to overcome technological barriers on the frontier of space exploration.

Read More: Queqiao 2: China’s relay satellite rockets to lunar orbit

Pakistan’s proposal for iCube Qamar’s inclusion in the Chang’e-6 mission was selected from among member states of the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), affirming the nation’s standing in the global space community. As iCube Qamar begins its mission, Pakistan anticipates a wealth of scientific data and insights that will enrich its space research endeavors.