APSCO set to be born

by Chris Bergin

A powerful new space organization – led by China and Pakistan – is about to become a reality with the birth of Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) this coming Friday.

The two nations will be joined by Thailand, Bangladesh, Mongolia and Peru – alongside Iran, which is bound to attract the attentions of the US Administration.

The organization is being set up to join forces with nations on their respective experience, expertise and resources in developing space technology. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil and the Ukraine have also expressed an interest. 

The signing of the agreement between the two founder members – and the five countries joining alongside – will take place in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, with Pakistan sending their top man – SUPARCO (Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) Chairman Major General (Retd) Raza Hussain.

“As per the Article 29 of the convention, APSCO is to come into force,” he said. “At least five States in the region – who are also members of the United Nations – have signed it and have deposited with the host government their instruments of ratification or acceptance,” he said to the Pakistan Daily Times.

Top officials from the Asia Pacific Multilateral Cooperation in Space Technology and Applications (AP-MCSTA) will also be in attendance.

The countries outside the geographical region of APSCO have – like Argentina – asked for observer status, but expressed a solid interest in aligning with the likes of China, which only recently enjoyed success with their second manned space flight mission on Shenzhou VI.

Host nation China has already agreed to fund APSCO until the end of 2006, with other member states not having to pay towards the organization until 2007.

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