Pakistan marks the successful entry of its first lunar mission, iCube Qamar’s successful launch, into lunar orbit as a historic turning point in space exploration. The Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO) on behalf of the China National Space Agency (CNSA) extended an invitation to member states to launch CubeSat into lunar orbit from the Chang’e-6 mission. Out of all the APSCO members, Pakistan’s proposal was approved following a careful assessment.

Academic institutions use a type of small satellite known as CubeSats for research and experimentation in low Earth orbits, usually at a height of less than 1,000 km.

iCube Qamar's Successful Launch

Realistic depiction of the iCube Qamar’s Successful Launch in space. CGTN

Description of the Deployment and Mission 

An important part of the IST core team, Dr. Khurram Khurshid, declared at 1:14 PM PST on May 8th that iCube Qamar had been successfully deployedMay 3rd saw the satellite’s departure from Hainan, China, as part of China’s Chang’e-6 mission. By May 15, Pakistan would have high-resolution satellite photographs of certain lunar terrains to share, with a three- to six-month mission duration expected. To capture photos of the lunar surface for study back on Earth, the ICUBE-Q is equipped with two cameras as part of its cargo. 

Technical Features and Cooperation Efforts 

Around 100 students and faculty members from IST worked with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) in China to design, develop, and qualify iCube Qamar, which is the pinnacle of international collaboration. SUPARCO, the national space agency of Pakistan, provided support for this project. The cooperative spirit in furthering space exploration is highlighted by this combined endeavor.

Thanks to its two optical cameras, the iCube Qamar will be able to shed light on lunar geography, which will be extremely beneficial. Its integration with the Chang’e-6 mission in China, following extensive testing and qualification, enhances its scientific potential. The sophisticated nature of Pakistan’s space technology is demonstrated by features like 3-axis altitude control, onboard computing, and temperature regulation.

CubeSats’ Growing Contribution to Deep Space Exploration 

CubeSats had been limited to low Earth orbits, but they are now able to travel farther into space, beyond their former boundaries. The deployment of iCube Qamar on the Chang’e-6 mission represents an important shift in the use of tiny satellites for lunar exploration. This growth in CubeSat applications signals the beginning of a new phase of space exploration, innovation, and discovery.

Surmounting Obstacles 

It is extremely difficult to communicate and maintain control when navigating the complicated lunar orbits. Even with these challenges, Pakistan’s space program has proven to be resilient and flexible, as seen by iCube Qamar’s successful deployment. Pakistan has proven its capacity to surmount technological obstacles in the realm of space exploration through strategic alliances and comprehensive planning. Pakistan hopes to obtain a plethora of scientific information and understanding from iCube Qamar’s launch, which will enhance its space research efforts.