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Launch Vehicles

SUPARCO began launching imported sounding rockets in 1962, and has fired small sounding rockets on sub-orbital science flights from launch pads at its Sonmiani Beach [Maini Beach] flight-range, 36 miles west of Karachi. By the 1970s SUPARCO had developed the ability to fabricate rocket motors from raw materials at a solid-propellant manufacturing plant. By the early 1980s SUPARCO announced plans for the development of the Hatf-1 and Hatf-2 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. Solid propellant production facilities were enlarged by 1987 to support this effort. Tests of the Hatf-1 and Hatf-2 were announced in April 1989, and the Hatf-2 was displayed publicly during a Pakistan Day Joint Services Parade later that year.

In June 1991, the Bush administration imposed sanctions on China and SUPARCO for what Washington described as "significant transfers of M-11 missile technology and components". The sanctions were waived in March 1992, when China promised to abide by Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines. In August 1993, the US again imposed two-year sanctions on Pakistani and Chinese entities for violations of MTCR guidelines. The sanctions on Pakistan ended with the expiration of the fixed two-year term.

In 1996 shipments of ammonium perchlorate (an oxidizer for solid rocket propellant) destined for SUPARCO were seized in two separate incidents. In March 1996, 200 barrels of ammonium perchlorate shipped from North Korea's Lyongaksan General Trade Corporation were detained in Taiwan en route to SUPARCO. On 29 April 1996, customs officials in Hong Kong seized enough ammonium perchlorate to fuel about 25 missiles, originating in Xian, China. In September 1996 Pakistan acknowledged that SUPARCO had imported a small quantity of rocket fuel for scientific research and denied reports about the seizure of a massive amounts of fuel. A Foreign Office spokesman said that SUPARCO had imported rocket fuel for research and study.

On 02 July 1997 Pakistan confirmed it launched a new version of its indigenous Hatf missile in a test carried out by SUPARCO, as part of the agency's program of research and development of rocket motor technology. Unconfirmed press reports claimed that the test was of the Hatf-III, with a range of 800 kilometers (500 miles).

In late 1999 Dr Abdul Majid, Chairman Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) announed that Pakistan would develop its own satellite launching vehicle within a period of about three years, although no details of this previously undisclosed program were revealed.

Sources and Resources


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