China on Friday announced plans to boost space cooperation with Pakistan, including the development of a space centre and launching of more satellites for its all-weather ally.
Pakistan figures many times in a white paper titled "China's Space Programme: A 2021 Perspective", released by the State Council or the Central Cabinet, outlining future expansion plans for China's burgeoning space industry, which has successfully launched missions to the Moon and Mars.
China will "give priority to developing communications satellites for Pakistan and to cooperating on the construction of the Pakistan Space Centre", the white paper said.
China is currently building its own space station, which is expected to be ready by this year.
In 2018, China had helped Pakistan to launch two satellites -- Pakistan's first optical remote sensing satellite PRSS-1, and a smaller observation craft PakTES-1A. In 2019, the two countries signed an agreement on space exploration, marking a new phase in space science cooperation between the close allies.
The white paper released on Friday said China completed the in-orbit delivery of the Pakistan Remote-Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1), Venezuelan Remote-Sensing Satellite (VRSS-2), Sudan Remote-Sensing Satellite (SRSS-1), and the Algerian Communications Satellite (Alcomsat-1).
China has provided satellite carrying or launching services for many countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Luxembourg.
China has conducted space product and technology cooperation with countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Argentina, Pakistan, and Nigeria, the white paper said.
Beijing will advance the construction and application of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) remote-sensing satellite constellation, it said.
China has signed cooperation agreements for the BRICS Remote-Sensing Satellite Constellation, cooperated with the European Space Agency on earth observation satellite data exchange, and built the China-ASEAN Satellite Information Offshore Service Platform and the Remote-Sensing Satellite Data-Sharing Service Platform, it said.
China has built satellite data receiving stations with countries like Bolivia, Indonesia, Namibia, Thailand and South Africa.
Releasing the white paper, China's National Space Administration (CNSA) deputy head Wu Yanhua said the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), jointly proposed by China and Russia, is expected to become operational by 2035, the state-run Global Times reported.
"Governments of China and Russia are working closely on the ILRS agreements and have basically reached a consensus, and the agreement will hopefully be signed later this year. After that, a joint declaration on the project will be announced to the world by the national space agencies of the two countries," Wu said.
The white paper said China will carry out more space science exploration in the next five years and continue with the research and development of programmes such as the satellite for space gravitational wave detection, the advanced space-based solar observatory.
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