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Blue and white in space B - a small space agency and a large industry

Part two in the series of articles by Tal Inbar on Israel in space published in issue 122 of Galileo magazine, August 2008 on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the launch of Ofek 1

From right to left Ofek 1 and a model of the Shavit 2 rocket. Photo: Tal Inbar
From right to left Ofek 1 and a model of the Shavit 2 rocket. Photo: Tal Inbar

The Israeli Space Agency

The Israel Space Agency (in its former and familiar name: SLA - Space Exploitation Agency), was established by a government decision of January 23, 1983, as a state body operating under the Ministry of Science. The CEO of the agency today is Dr. Zvi Kaplan. The driving force behind its establishment was the late Prof. Yuval Na'eman, who served for many years as chairman of Salah. The Israeli Space Agency is designed to formulate plans and methods of action to promote the national civilian goals of Israeli activity in the field of space, and to implement them within the framework of the resources allocated for this.

The TAA is the creator of Israel's satellites. Recently IAA announced the signing of a huge deal with the Israeli government for the supply of the Amos communication satellite. 4

To achieve these goals, the Israel Space Agency works in joint programs with industry and academia in Israel, in various types of research, development and production of launchers, satellites and subsystems. This activity is accompanied by cooperation with space agencies of other countries. The goal set by the chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Major General (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, is to increase Israel's comparative advantage and place it in the group of five leading countries in the world in space exploration and exploitation. To achieve this goal, he proposes to engage in the field of building systems of satellites for space exploration and Earth research from space (such as observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, tiny satellites and satellite systems in coordinated orbits).

Also, Israel must preserve for itself a launch and propulsion capability. In the longer term, Prof. Ben-Israel believes that action should be taken to place a person in space (in collaboration with other space agencies, most likely within the framework of the International Space Station). The vision of the Israel Space Agency is: "To preserve and expand Israel's comparative advantage and place it in the group of five leading countries in the world in space exploration and utilization."

A major project in recent years, in which the Israeli Space Agency is involved and leading, is the Venus observation satellite. Venus is intended for environmental monitoring missions (see: "Precision agriculture - from space"). This is an Israeli-French project to build a small scientific satellite. The satellite will be built under Israeli leadership, jointly financed by the two countries, and will be a technological demonstrator for the GMES project, the European initiative for global monitoring of the environment for a variety of purposes. The satellite will be based on an Israeli satellite structure (the satellite with the generic chassis on which Texar is also based, and will include a space camera developed in Israel, an Israeli electric motor to drive the satellite in space, as well as special algorithms developed in Israel.

Besides the Israel Space Agency, the chief scientist at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment is also a partner in the project; Raphael; The Aerospace Industry and Al-Op. According to the plan, the satellite will be launched in 2010. The satellite is supposed to be launched using the Indian PSLV launcher, the same launcher that launched the Texar satellite in January 2008.

Space activity in the aerospace industry

In 1984, it was decided to establish the National Space Knowledge Center at the Aerospace Industry (TAA), and a contract was signed between it and the Ministry of Defense for infrastructure development and the first observation satellite project. A project management was established at the TA, headed by Dr. Moshe Bar-Lev for many years. Today, the Directorate operates 6 operational satellites in orbit using 3 ground stations. In the coming years, this trend is expected to continue: about 9 additional satellites will be built and launched.

As mentioned, the TAA is the creator of Israeli satellites, and several divisions and factories are involved in the development and production of the satellites and launchers. The Mabat-Hell plant is responsible for the design, construction and testing of the satellites; The Elisara plant is responsible for the development of advanced radars, such as the radar radar of the Taksar satellite, and provides additional systems for satellites; The TAM plant is responsible for some of the satellite systems, such as the direction control systems; And the Melam plant is responsible for the integration of the Shavit satellite launcher (the two rocket engines installed in it, in the first and second stages, are manufactured in the Givon plant of the Israeli Institute of Technology), as well as for the assembly of the solar cells for the various Israeli satellites.

The Aerospace Industry recently successfully launched the advanced observation satellite Ofek 7, which has already begun to provide high-resolution photographs. Also, the aerospace industry recently revealed a modern and advanced optical observation satellite, OptSat 3000, which is under development. The Israel Aerospace Exploration Agency's Mabat Space Plant also develops and manufactures the Eros series of commercial observation satellites, which provide high-resolution photographs, for ImageSat International Ltd., ISI. Eros A and Eros B, the first in the group, operate simultaneously in heliosynchronous orbits (synchronized with the sun's rotation), and provide ImageSat customers with images of areas of interest at short time intervals.

The TECSAR satellite, which was launched on January 21.1.08, 4, is based on Alta's latest radar and miniaturization technologies, constitutes a technological breakthrough and will complement intelligence capabilities that electro-optical technology is unable to provide. Recently IAA announced the signing of a huge deal with the Israeli government for the supply of the advanced communication satellite Amos XNUMX, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Amos 4 will belong to the Amos series of communication satellites, which are placed in space and provide communication services to a wide range of customers. Like the other IAA satellites, Amos 4 will be controlled by IAA's ground stations, which are located under one roof in the Systems, Missiles and Space Division. This division encompasses all the planning, development, integration, testing and tracking infrastructure of all satellites, and serves as the national space center of the State of Israel.

The Amos 4 satellite will enable a very significant increase in the volume of communication, its immunity to disruptions and its adaptability to a variety of applications that today cannot be achieved using the other satellites. Its weight at the time of launch will be about 3.4 tons, that is, a communication satellite of medium weight, and it will carry a large number of transponders (the components in a communication satellite that transmit the transmission) in the Ku and Ka ranges (frequency ranges that enable broadband and secure communication). The satellite will provide service to customers of the Space-Communications Company and the Israeli government.

Space activity in Raphael

After the decision that the Aerospace Industry's Mabat-Hell plant would be the center of national knowledge in the field of satellites, Rafael became a manufacturer of components and systems for Israeli satellites. The company is responsible for the development and production of propulsion systems for Israel's observation satellites, and it also manufactures (in its missile division) the third stage engine of the Shavit satellite launcher, known as "Azov".

Two main Israeli companies provide space services to customers in Israel and around the world: Space Communications and Imagesat International.

In addition, Rafael is responsible for developing an electric motor for the Venus satellite, in collaboration with the Sorek Nuclear Research Center. The company plans to develop microsatellites and a small satellite launcher that will be launched from airplanes. Rafael, with the direct and indirect assistance of the Israel Space Agency, integrated itself into the global market in several projects, including Venus and Sloshsat ((Sloshsat, a Dutch research satellite that examined the phenomenon of the wading of liquids in space) (the movement of fuel in the fuel tanks of satellites causes stabilization problems and is therefore of practical importance Rabbah) In June 2005, Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries signed the establishment of a joint company for the production of small satellites.

Concept illustration of microsatellites from Rafael development
Concept illustration of microsatellites from Rafael development

Microsat Israel Company

A new player in the Israeli space arena is the microsatellite company MicroSat Israel, which was established as a joint venture between Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael. This company is fully owned by the government and is in the advanced stages of its formation and the beginning of its operations.

The company's goal is the development, production and marketing of advanced micro-satellites, which will be suitable for air launch and fast and agile space activities - such as launch on demand when necessary. The company will make use of the proven space heritage of the Aerospace Industry and Rafael, and will focus on the military market on the one hand and the commercial/civilian market on the other hand.

One of the company's goals is to create an array of satellites that will work together while flying a structure in space, in a low orbit around the Earth. This satellite array will achieve continuous coverage of areas of interest to the user.

Israeli industries in space exploration

  • Eloup (from the Elbit Systems Group) developed, among other things, one of the best space cameras in the world, which was integrated into the Israeli satellites. On top of that, Alup, in collaboration with scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Space Agency, developed the TAUVEX space telescope. Alup also develops tiny cameras for small and tiny satellites. The Technion Texat 2 satellite is equipped with such a low-resolution camera. Alup also developed, with the direct and indirect assistance of the Israeli Space Agency, a multispectral camera for commercial purposes. This camera shoots about 12 colors with a resolution of 5 meters.
  • Elishra Electronic Systems operates in the fields of advanced technologies of satellite communication and cellular communication, image processing, monitoring for security purposes and more. The company is involved in Israel's communication satellite programs.
  • IAS (formerly the Military Industry) - the manufacturer of the first and second stages of the Shavit satellite launcher (produced at the Givon plant).
  • Tadiran Spectralink manufactures communication equipment for satellites.
  • Accubit manufactures atomic clocks for satellites.
  • Rocar manufactures GPS systems for satellites.
  • Ramon Chips manufactures chips and electronic components for space applications (named after the late Ilan Ramon).

space services

Two main Israeli companies provide space services to customers in Israel and around the world: Space Communications Company, which owns the Amos series communication satellites and provides satellite communication services to a variety of customers; and the Imagesat company, which provides photography services using a pair of Eros satellites manufactured by the Aerospace Industry.

Halal Communication is an Israeli satellite service provider, which as mentioned markets the Amos series satellite services. The first entrepreneurs of an Israeli communications satellite were Major General Meir Amit (currently Chairman of Halal Communications and former Minister of Communications) and Hazi Carmel, who conceived the idea in the early 2s. Halal Communications, which was founded in the early nineties, initiated the development of the Amos 3 communications satellite, which is now fully owned by it. Amos 2008 was successfully launched into space in April XNUMX.

ImageSat International is an international company that provides satellite photos to various clients. The company was established by the Aerospace Industry, Elbit and various investors, and is registered in the Netherlands Antilles, which allows it to sell to customers who were not interested in maintaining open commercial relations with Israel. The company operates two observation satellites produced by Israel Aerospace Industries' space plant: Eros A, launched in 2000, and Eros B, launched in 2006.

6 תגובות

  1. Really impressive. Much more than the Israeli car industry
    that we would all like to be proud of...

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