Pakistan on Thursday announced it would send an astronaut to space in 2022 for the first time with the help of China. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry made the announcement ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to Beijing next week. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Khan.

The minister said the country’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and a Chinese company have already signed an agreement. The two countries share a robust defence relationship and Islamabad is one of the biggest buyers of Chinese military hardware. Earlier this year, Pakistan launched two satellites using a Chinese launch vehicle, PTI reported.


India is also set to send three astronauts to space in 2022 for five to seven days, the Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO, announced in August. Christened Gaganyaan, it will be the country’s first manned space mission and will be preceded by two unmanned missions. If it succeeds, India will become the fourth nation to send a man to space after Russia, the United States and China.