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Launch Vehicles



Space Booster



Since the year 2000 it has been known that Pakistan had started working on at least two design studies for its space launch vehicle. By 2002 two designs had survived that effort and were displayed in model form at the IDEAS 2002 defense industry show. One design utilized the lengthened common core booster without strap-ons and the other design utilized four strap-on boosters attached to the common core first stage. Its design was centered on developing a space booster based on the design technologies of the Shaheen-1/M-11 [PRC] and the Shaheen-II/M-18 [PRC] evolved up-rated higher performance design. In order to accomplish this design approach for the space booster they both lengthened and increased the thrust of the basic Shaheen-II first and second stage solid motor designs. The second stage is essentially a first stage with an altitude to vacuum thrust nozzle. Additional modifications of several shorter vacuum thrust solid motors of the same design as the Shaheen-II second stage were also apparently quietly developed. Equally they further refined the Shaheen-I solid motor for a strap-on design application in these design studies. All along this space booster program has remained a quiet effort with little information being provided since 2002. The precise performance, payload capacity and final design characteristics of the two booster systems apparently in the advanced state of development remains uncertain. Whether Pakistan will also choose to apply this improved technological hardware to longer range ballistic missile and to what end remains undefined. The obvious intent of these developments presumably is for utilizing the industrial base already developed through on going work as well as the potential multiple purpose missions for the space booster for its scientific, commercial, and military, space payload application.

This is a composite design study of the two designs observed based on the know precursor Shaheen-I & Shaheen-II design technology as well as the defense industry displayed models design details for the future space booster of Pakistan. How accurate this is at this time remains uncertain but flight testing could be in the not too distant future from an as yet unidentified space launch center. The technological base of the Shaheen-1, and Shaheen-II ballistic missiles have greatly contributed to the evolved new space launch vehicle development by Pakistan.

In order to justify sustaining the Pakistani, Shaheen-1 and Shaheen-II industrial base as those programs wind down new work based on that experience had to be developed and funded to maintain that industrial base for it national defense. This is being accomplished through the space booster effort through a commonality hardware design. The development effort has been lead by the Pakistan National Defense Complex (PNDC) as well as the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCOP), and the associated Nuclear Industry Commission. Funding is also coming from the Pakistani Planning Commission (PPC) as well as through government defense industry contracts.

Pakistan Finally Dropped the Other Shoe

When renowned Pakistan, nuclear scientist Dr. Samar Mubarakmand stated on August 18, 2009 that Pakistan would launch its own satellite in April 2011 it made some things seem all to obvious to analyst familiar with the subject. He described the satellite as being able to monitor agricultural programs, minerals programs and weather conditions and that it was funded by the Pakistani Planning Commission. He went on to say there was enough money’s for both the defense, nuclear and space programs. Whether this will be a less than 100 kg first test satellite or a much heavier satellite remains to be seen.


  1. Pakistan To Launch First Satellite In 2011, Islamabad, Pakistan, Xinhau News Agency, Aug 19, 2009, p. 1-2.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:52:41 ZULU