Pak aspiring to send astronaut aboard Chinese spacecraft

Pakistan is keen to send an astronaut on board a Chinese spacecraft, a top diplomat has said as the two countries are set to launch a Pakistani satellite soon.

"It is our natural aspiration that a Pakistani astronaut aboard a Chinese spacecraft flies to the space," Pakistan's Ambassador to China, Masood Khan said ahead of the launch of Paksat-1R.

"This is possible because Pakistan and China enjoy relations of trust and confidence," he said.

The Pakistan Communication Satellite, Paksat-1R is due to be launched from Chinese satellite launching site located at Xichang city in the second week of August, depending on weather conditions.

Paksat-1R will replace Paksat-1 which is going to complete its useful life in 2011.

"Launching of a communication satellite is going to be a new symbolic development in Pakistan-China relations, as this will broaden the horizons of our cooperation," Khan was quoted as saying by the official APP news agency.

He said, during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Pakistan in December last year, the two governments had decided to deepen cooperation in space, science and technology.

"Paksat-1R, as the satellite is called, is a big step in that direction. It will revolutionise the use of broadband Internet, digital television broadcasting and mobile telephony; spur our economy; and strengthen the education and health sectors," he said.

"Such cooperation with China also helps us move towards self-reliance," he said adding that Pakistan was looking at cooperation with China in remote sensing satellites as well.

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