This is what Ofer Doron, CEO of the aerospace industry's space plant, said during the 12th Ilan Ramon Space Conference held this week in Herzliya.
"The strategic investment in observation satellites has proven itself, this should also be done in the field of communication satellites, you cannot leave the issue in the air, and then complain that communication space is being sold to the Chinese." This is what Ofer Doron, CEO of the Aerospace Industry's Space Plant, said in a lecture before the Ilan Ramon Annual Space Conference that took place on Monday this week in Herzliya organized by the Fisher Institute and the Ministry of Science.
The year 2016 was marked by the successful launch and operation of the Ofek 11 satellite, as far as we can tell, but also in the shadow of the explosion of the Amos 6 satellite during refueling of the SPACEX company's Falcon 9 launcher, days before the planned launch date.
It is impossible not to talk about communication satellites in a year like this. We are at a critical crossroads in the field of communication satellites. In contrast to the observation satellites that the government decided to declare as a strategic field and go out and accordingly the amazing achievements, in communication satellites such a decision was never made and such a decision is required. The field of communication satellites will not last if the government does not support development and business. In my opinion, the field is strategic in the civil, national sense and also in other ways. The state must have independent capacity in this area. It's completely legitimate to decide not to, but if not, then no, and they won't shout that they want to sell to the Chinese, if it's not strategic, it's not strategic. You can also see Yes on a satellite controlled from a room in Europe and hope that the screen will remain open at the required moment (the term is during an AB emergency). These are not large amounts. You can invest the budgets in a multi-year plan and preserve the field. The Minister of Science appointed a committee headed by CEO Peretz Vezan and recommendations are now being formulated in the government. I am hopeful that decisions will be made one way or the other and we will be on our way. We are prepared in the development aspects to leverage the necessary investments to preserve independence in this field.
"The first life of the Ofek 11 military observation satellite was somewhat challenging, but it has overcome its problems and brings amazing products, the most beautiful images possible, and we are very satisfied with it and the users are enthusiastic. More than that cannot be specified. 2017 is also interesting. In two weeks, a nano-satellite developed together with Ben Gurion University will be launched on an Indian launcher - part of a new line that can perform many tasks in the field of Earth observation. Then towards the summer the two small-large satellites will be launched together on one launcher - Venus - cooperation with France and Offset 3000 with the Italian government.
Next we are building the high quality optical satellite Eros C that we are building for Inmagsat and we are also working with the Technion on the three Samson satellites and of course with SPACEIL when our goal is not only to reach the final five but also to the moon.
There is a principle called KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid. It's a true engineering principle, the problem is that in space it doesn't always work that way. Space is a cruel place and requires many different disciplines over the years we have developed world leadership in the ability to build lightweight satellites with high performance while studying in depth and specializing in many different fields that are all required to build serious satellites. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult for startups to get started in the world of space. Those who do not master all disciplines well or work with partners who specialize will have a hard time.
We have done this with a long line of observation satellites. In recent years, as part of the global trend and to bring useful capabilities from space to Earth, more small satellites have to be built that will do much more. We have developed the avionics that are required to do the missions at reasonable costs and with good quality, so we will soon launch the first one and together with the Technion at Samson and we will reach the moon with SPACEIL. We collaborate with many people who come to the field of space from other places and the old space industry with the aim of taking the technologies and applying them in non-military fields. For example the Shalom satellite which we hope will be launched, or Ultrasat which I hope will also be launched in the coming year. All of these are based on technologies developed in recent years.
From here the hand is still tilted and there is tremendous activity also in the field of upgrading the classical satellites. There are ideas and thoughts about satellites of different sizes and in different fields that will eventually make it possible to provide many, many types of service and many, many types of information and many, many different systems at more or less reasonable costs. Some of them are in the civil field, most of them are military and a large part are in both fields at the same time. All these systems are based on the collection of technologies and in-depth capabilities developed here over many years."