Beijing: For the first time, China will be launching a communication satellite for close ally Pakistan, a move that will mark "a new beginning" in bilateral space collaboration. The satellite named PAKSAT-1R will be launched at an "appropriate time" in the coming days; state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying.
The satellite, which was made in China, would provide a variety of benefits, including high-power communication and weather monitoring facilities, besides strategic defence applications.
Both the satellite and rocket are currently in good condition, the official said.
The satellite would be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest Sichuan Province by China's space work horse, the Long March-3B carrier rocket, he said.
The new satellite was expected to replace PAKSAT-1, which was acquired by Pakistan in 2002 from the US-based Hughes Space and Communications Company after Indonesia had given it up due to power problems.
Appreciating China's gesture, Pakistan's Ambassador to Beijing, Masood Khan, said PAKSAT-1R is a symbol of Pak-China cooperation in the area of space science and technology.
"It is the first of the kind to be launched by China and Pakistan. Therefore, it establishes a new platform, and it marks a new beginning," Pakistan's state-run APP quoted Khan as telling the Chinese media.
"As we accomplished this goal of launching PAKSAT-1R, we will swiftly move on to expand our collaboration with China in related fields of space science and technology," he said.
In the long term, he said, "we also want to cooperate with China on satellite designs to develop Pakistan's indigenous capability."