ISRO vs SUPARCO: Facts on Launch Vehicles, Satellites & Space Missions

(Last Updated On: January 21, 2020)

India and Pakistan are neighbors as well as rivals in many fields starting from cricket to defense, the rivalry starts soon after the partition and Independence of two countries.

Here is a comparison of the space research sector of these two countries by analyzing ISRO vs SUPARCO.

ISRO is India’s Space Research Organization, which has made significant achievements since its formation in 1969. ISRO has already conducted many satellite launch missions and Science and planetary missions.

On the other hand, while considering ISRO vs SUPARCO, The Pakistani space agency SUPARCO was formed in 1981. SUPARCO is the abbreviation of the Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission. SUPARCO has no bigger comparable achievements with ISRO. SUPARCO’s major space programs are the development of Communication and Remote Sensing Satellites.

#1 Launch Vehicles 

ISRO is famous for its trusted Launch vehicles. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) are the two main launch vehicles developed by ISRO and uses its variants in several missions.

Due to the trustworthiness of these launch vehicles, many space agencies are depending on ISRO’s satellite launch vehicles to place their satellites on orbit.
In the case of launch vehicles, ISRO vs SUPARCO comparison is pointless because SUPARCO has never made noticeable achievements in the launch vehicles segment.

Their major projects in the Launch vehicle or rocket development by SUPARCO are Rehbar spaceflight program, Hatf Programme, and Shaheen-III.

Rehbar is a kind of sounding rocket, it carried a payload of 36 kg to the upper atmosphere and Pakistan became the tenth nation in the world to achieve this. Haft program is a secret rocket development program by SUPARCO and it was revealed by the Pakistan army in 1980.

It is a missile program and they are claiming it reached an altitude of 480 km.

Shaheen-III is another major program of SUPARCO but is also considered as a ballistic missile with solid propellant.

While comparing with ISRO’s launch vehicles SUPARCO doesn’t even have anything like the Liquid propellant engine or the cryogenic engine used by ISRO and SUPARCO doesn’t have any plan to develop such launchers.

#2 Satellites

ISRO starts its satellite mission with Aryabhatta. It was launched in 1975 in a Russian rocket after that ISRO indigenously developed and launched many satellites, they include communication satellites, earth observation satellites, navigation, and space science.

ISRO launched its first communication satellite in 1982, Now India has a large constellation of operational communication satellites and it is the largest domestic communication satellite constellation in Asia pacific.

While comparing this with ISRO vs SUPARCO the first communication satellite of SUPARCO was launched in 2011.

The first communication satellite of SUPARCO is PakSat-1R, This satellite was developed and launched with the support from China.
On the other hand, ISRO’s satellites are initially launched by Europian Space Agencies Ariane rocket and now it is done by ISRO’s own GSLV Mk iii and other GSLV variants.

The recent development in the heavy lifter rocket made it possible.

Another major program of SUPARCO is its remote sensing satellites called PRESS. It is the abbreviation of the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite. SUPARCO is claiming that this satellite program was indigenously developed with the support of some space agency.

ISRO’s remote sensing satellite mission was started with IRS 1A in 1988. Today ISRO has one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in the world. CARTOSAT, RISAT- 2B, Ocean sat, Resource sat are some of the earth observational and remote sensing satellites launched by ISRO.

#3 Space Science and Exploration Missions

ISRO and SUPARCO are intended to develop their space technology for the development of their countries. ISRO has recently extended its area of research to the development of interplanetary missions like Mangalyaan 1 and Astrophysics study missions like Astrosat.
SUPARCO doesn’t have any interplanetary missions yet and they do not have any plan to do it shortly.

Their scientific and astrophysics research is limited in ground-based meteorological studies from their National Balloon launching facility in Karachi.

On the other hand, ISRO developed several numbers of space science and exploration missions. Astrosat is ISRO’s primary satellite dedicated to astronomy, however, ISRO’s first satellite Aryabhatta also contains payload for astrophysical study but it is rather considered as an experimental satellite.

Chandrayaan 1 and Chandrayaan 2 are ISRO’s moon mission both the missions contain payloads for remote sensing and planetary study and ISRO’s Mars mission Mangalyaan or Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is another milestone achievement of ISRO by this mission ISRO became the fourth space agency to reach mars and first agency to successfully reach Mars in its first attempt.

#4 Future Missions

Space Research is considered as the impotent key to the prosperous future of all nations so every country is trying to reach space and explore much as they can.

As an Important space agency in the world, ISRO is planning some future missions like Adithya L1 to the sun, Shukrayaan 1 to Venus, Mangalyaan 2 to mars and Exoworlds mission to reach interstellar space.
ISRO’s human space flight program is going to happen in 2021.

Recent development and training for human space flight are going on in ISRO facilities, Indians have already reached space before but it was in Russian and American space flight programs.

SUPARCO on the behalf of Pakistan is going to send a space traveler in a Chinese space flight program in 2022. While comparing ISRO vs SUPARCO, ISRO had already sent three astronauts to space in various space flight programs conducted by the USA and the Soviet Union.

SUPARCO has some satellite programs that are planning to launch in 2040.
The program is just to replace the existing communication and remote sensing satellites in the orbit, but they have no plan to develop launch vehicles, these plans are not even comparable while considering ISRO vs SUPARCO

In the comparison of ISRO vs SUPARCO the business or the commercial wings of bot the space agencies to be analyzed. ISRO’s Antrix cooperation is one of the world’s leading agencies that launches satellites commercially.

Pakistan’s SUPARCO has no such commercial wing to give service even their space missions are also outsourcing to Chinese companies.