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The Technion Edlis-Samson satellite fleet was launched into space this morning

This morning, the "Adelis-Samson" project took off into space: an autonomous satellite fleet that will detect signals on Earth. This is the first launch of three Israeli satellites at the same time. The project was developed with the support of the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Aerospace Industry

A launch from a Soyuz launcher on 22/3/21, including the Technion's three Adelis-Samson satellites. Photo: GK LAUNCH SERVICES
A launch from a Soyuz launcher on 22/3/21, including the Technion's three Adelis-Samson satellites. Photo: GK LAUNCH SERVICES

This morning at 8:07 a.m., the autonomous satellite fleet developed at the Technion as part of the "Adelis-Samson" project was launched into space, on a Glavkosmos rocket. The satellites were launched from the "Baikonor" Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan - the first spaceport in the world and the first site to launch people into space (April 1961, Yuri Gagarin). The "Adelis-Samson" project is supported by the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Aerospace Industry. The computers of the three satellites, which are also supposed to communicate with each other, were built by the Israeli company Ramon Space.

Four hours and twenty minutes after the launch, the Edlis-Samson satellites entered orbit, and after another half hour they "woke up" and started activating their systems. First communication with the control center at the Technion is expected this afternoon.

Sitting in the control center at the Asher Space Research Institute this morning - and closely following the live broadcast from Kazakhstan - were the Technion President Prof. Uri Sion, Technion Vice President and CEO Prof. Boaz Golani, Vice President for Foreign Relations and Resource Development Prof. Alon Wolf, Head of the Asher Space Research Institute Prof. Yoram Rosen and the people accompanying the project since its beginning, led by Prof. Pini Gurfil from the Asher Space Research Institute.

"The launch this morning was accompanied by tremendous excitement," said Prof. Gurfil, a faculty member in the Faculty of Aeronautics and Space Engineering. "This is a long-term basic research that has been combined with advanced Israeli technology and it allows us to take Israel an important step forward in the field of tiny satellites. The degree of innovation of nanosatellites can be compared to the transition from a computer to a cell phone. The 'Adelis-Samson' project demonstrates a new concept in nanosatellites and it will allow many operations to be performed that were reserved until now for large and expensive satellites. This is a leap forward in the capabilities of the Technion and of the State of Israel as a whole in the field of small satellites, and it will make the Technion a global pioneer in the fields of localization and communication, with diverse applications that include locating missing people, rescue and rescue, remote sensing and environmental monitoring."

The fleet of tiny satellites will move in space in an autonomous structure flight, that is, they will move in coordination with each other without the need for guidance from the ground. The band will be used to calculate the location of radiant sources on the surface of the earth, a technology that will be applied in locating people, planes and ships. Each of the three satellites in the constellation weighs about 8 kilograms. Measuring devices, antennas, computer systems, control systems, navigation devices and a unique and innovative propulsion system were installed on top of each satellite. The satellites will move in a formation flight at an altitude of 600 km above the ground and will locate, with high precision, signals on Earth. The signals will be transmitted to a special mission control center built at the Asher Institute for Space Research at the Technion. The mission receiver was developed in the aerospace industry. This is the first launch of three Israeli satellites at the same time.

Watch the live recording of the broadcast

"The Edlis-Samson project is a wonderful and exciting example of a successful combination of science and technology and the translation of innovative ideas into effective systems that contribute to humanity," said Technion President Prof. Uri Sion. "Scientific and technological breakthroughs today require multidisciplinary research and close cooperation between academia and industry, and these are the elements that led the project to this important day. This is an exciting and defining moment for the Technion and the State of Israel."

Follow up to the first launch in 1998

The current launch continues a Technion tradition that began in 1998 with the successful launch of the Gorwin-Texat 2 satellite. This satellite operated in space for more than 11 years, a record time for academic activity in space. "The launch of 'Adlis-Samson' is a dramatic moment for which we have been waiting for nine years and we will follow it closely," said Prof. Sion. "I sincerely thank our partners at the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency and the Aerospace Industry who helped us make this project a reality. Every time you look at the sky, remember that the Technion once again managed to reach space."

All the unique developments of the satellites are blue-white products and were developed in an extraordinary collaboration between academia and industry: a special propulsion system, based on krypton gas, will be the first of its kind in the world to be operated on a tiny satellite. The digital receiver and the guidance control system was developed by the Aerospace Industry in collaboration with Technion researchers. In addition to the propulsion system, the satellites will accumulate energy through solar panels that will be deployed on the sides of each satellite and will be used as wings that, if necessary, control the flight of the structure without the use of fuel, through the air resistance in the atmosphere. A digital receiver was assembled on top of each of the nanosatellites, one of the most complex receivers ever designed in a nanosatellite. The system for processing the information on the satellite and the algorithms that will maintain the structure's flight will be among the first of their kind in the world, and will support the autonomous operation of several satellites at the same time. The navigation system will include two GPS receivers that will be used for autonomous navigation. The communication systems through which the three nanosatellites will communicate with each other and with the ground station will be operated on three different frequencies - a significant challenge solved in the current project. A dedicated frequency will be used to transmit information to the earth in broadband.

The control and propulsion systems of the satellites are also a technological innovation; To save fuel, the satellites use two natural forces - gravity and atmospheric resistance - and thus propel themselves. In this way, they need a tiny amount of fuel - less than a gram of fuel per day for each satellite. This achievement is the result of ten years of research that preceded the launch.

The tracking of the satellites, and the collection of the data they transmit, will take place at the Adelis-Samson control station that was inaugurated at the Technion in 2018. The station, built with the support of the Adelis Foundation, contains an array of antennas made by the Israeli Orbit and will maintain continuous communication with the satellites - a great challenge due to their proximity and distance from Earth.

Space is no longer just for big countries

"For many years there has been a widespread belief that space technologies, and space itself, are the property of leading economic powers; which are complicated, large and expensive goals beyond the capabilities of ordinary countries," said Rebecca Buchris, trustee of the Adelis Foundation. "Israel refuted this, and today there is no disputing that the small country is a member of the limited circle of space powers, thanks to the rapid development of the space industry in Israel. 'Adlis-Samson' is a unique project that embodies the Israeli spirit, its strength and the intellectual resources of the State of Israel. It expresses its technological and scientific strengths and places it on the world map in the fields of aviation and space, all with a modest budget and in an academic environment. The Edlis Foundation sees itself as a body that sows the seeds of the future and hopes that this project will be the first of many. We hope that the 'Adelis-Samson' project will inspire other small and smart projects that will lead Israeli developments into space for the glory of the State of Israel."

"The field of nanosatellites is experiencing a significant boom in recent years and the number of launches is increasing every year," said Avi Blasberger, director of the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology. "The costs of developing and launching such satellites, which are able to fulfill a variety of uses, are significantly lower than those of ordinary satellites. In the near future, networks are expected to appear that will include thousands of nano-satellites that will cover the earth and allow fast internet communication at a significantly lower cost than is common today, as well as many other applications such as the one that will be demonstrated by the Samson satellites."

"We see great importance in the cooperation with the Technion in promoting academic research and future technologies in the field of space," said IAI CEO Boaz Levy. "The Aerospace Industry, Israel's home of space, is the center of gravity in the field and sees the connection to the academy as an added value at the business level and at the technological level that will lead to Israel's continued innovation and leadership in the field of space. The joint work leads to the continued development of the entire ecosystem and IAI is proud to join forces in this innovative and groundbreaking project."

The Technion's 'Adelis-Samson' project involves many entities, including the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Aerospace Industry, which developed the mission receiver for detecting and locating signals from the ground. At the Technion, Asher Space Research Institute researchers Avner Kider, Hovik Aglarian, Dr. Vladimir Balanov, Avitar Adlerman, Yaron Oz, Maxim Rubanovich, Margarita Shamis, Yulia Konievski, Tzachi Ezra and Dr. Alex Fried are involved in the project, and many students have participated in it over the years. .

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