Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission(Suparco) was founded in 1961, under the leadership of Dr. Abdus Salam, a renowned nobel laureate.
Within the first year of its inception, the Pakistani scientists launched the Rehbar 1 rocket into the deep space which made us 3rd country after USSR and Japan to achieve this fate.
Since then, Suparco started a nose dive while just contributing fewer achievements every now and then. After a long pause, this July, the organization has sent two satellites in space from a launching facility in China.
On the other hand, India, who started its space program eight years later has managed to launch more than 100 satellites till now. They have sent a probe towards the moon and planning to launch first manned mission as well as a mission towards Mars.
While many criticize Suparco over lagging behind in the region, the officials of the organization blame the red tape bureaucratic system for their failure as reported by the Dawn.
It is quite evident that the country’s space research program is not heading in the right direction, but why? These are the main hurdles Suparco faced and still facing;
Lack of Funds
In the 1960’s and early 1970’s Suparco was continuously launching missions and spacecraft but then many projects were dismantled one by one citing the lack of funds as a reason.
Political upheaval, terrorism, and most importantly corruption and mismanagement has never allowed our economy to flourish making us inadequate to provide enough resources to the agency.
Suparco is being under the severe involvement and red tape culture of bureaucrats where they have to get permissions from those who question the very existence of the organization and term it as the wastage of money.
Since 2001, the organization is being headed by the ex-army generals having BS and Masters degrees in science whereas the space agencies, all over the world, are governed by the scientists having PhDs’.
Rudderless Space Program
Suparco was created to conduct Research and Development in space sciences, space technology, and their peaceful applications in the country. It seems the organization has lost the mere purpose of its creation. How many times we have seen some seminars from Suparco or lectures from their scientists in the universities?
Suparco is overpowered by Khan research laboratory(KRL) and Pakistan atomic energy commission(PAEC) and hence losing its own identity which was quite different from them.
Pakistan is the country with the immense amount of talent, where scientists are quite knowledgeable and as good as the ones in NASA. Many of our scientists are forced to do jobs in NASA and ESA due to the government’s ignorance.
Its high time that we re-caliber our compass and install the policies that get us inline with technologically and scientifically advanced nations. Yes, it will require resources but before that, it will require passion and clarity of mind.