Is­rael’s ninth satel­lite lifts off

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ERIC SIL­VER JERUSALEM

IS­RAEL YES­TER­DAY was sched­uled to launch Amos 3 — a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite de­signed and built by Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries — from a site in Kaza­khstan.

It re­in­forces Is­rael’s sta­tus as a satel­lite su­per­power, which can also mon­i­tor Iran and its Arab neigh­bours with­out re­ly­ing on other coun­tries’ good­will.

The satel­lite will stay in sta­tion­ary or­bit at an al­ti­tude of 36,000km, of­fer­ing ser­vices to com­mer­cial clients through­out the world. Space­com, an Amer­i­can ser­vice provider which will op­er­ate the satel­lite, an­nounced this week that it al­ready had or­ders worth $160 mil­lion (£80m). Amos 3 joins a stable of eight Is­raeli c o mmu­nic a - tions and re­con­nais­sance satel­lites cur­rently or­bit­ing the Earth. Is­rael is one of only seven coun­tries — or in the case of Europe, groups of coun­tries — that build their own satel­lites and are ca­pa­ble of launch­ing them.

Pro­fes­sor Isaac Ben-Is­rael, the chair­man of Is­rael’s space pro­gramme, told the JC: “Is­rael is self-suf­fi­cient in space. There are about 50 coun­tries in­volved in space.

“Most of them buy their satel­lites from those seven. Is­rael is one of the seven. The world mar­ket for space ser­vices is al­ready worth $150 bil­lion (£75bn) a year. There’s no rea­son why we shouldn’t have 5 to 10 per cent of that.”

Is­rael spe­cialises in mi­cro-satel­lites, weigh­ing 300-400kg. “The lighter the satel­lite, the cheaper it is,” ex­plained Pro­fes­sor Ben-Is­rael, a for­mer di­rec­tor of re­search and de­vel­op­ment in the Defence Min­istry.

“The launch doesn’t cost so much. The sub-sys­tems cost less. So we found our­selves with the ca­pa­bil­ity of build­ing so­phis­ti­cated satel­lites that are rel­a­tively cheap. The world started to show an in­ter­est.”

Ear­lier this year, Is­rael launched the TecSAR, a revo­lu­tion­ary sur­veil­lance satel­lite.

In­stead of an op­ti­cal cam­era, it uses ad­vanced radar tech­nol­ogy, which does not need light. It can send back high-def­i­ni­tion images taken at night and through cloud.

With French fi­nan­cial sup­port, Is­rael is now de­vel­op­ing the Venus, a sci­en­tific satel­lite which will be put to use mon­i­tor­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and pol­lu­tion.

“Satel­lites are per­haps the best source of mon­i­tor­ing global warm­ing,” ex­plained Pro­fes­sor Ben-Is­rael. “They can take pho­to­graphs of fields, for in­stance, and iden­tify cer­tain dis­eases in plants.

“You can look at the sea with mul­ti­spec­tral cam­eras, which can de­tect and iden­tify all the chem­i­cals in the wa­ter.

“The sci­en­tists will use those mea­sure­ments in or­der to build or ver­ify or change the model which can pre­dict all th­ese phe­nom­ena.”

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