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Friday, August 13, 2010

Aiming to be a space superpower

Prime Minister Netanyahu has approved an ambitious plan that hopes to give Israel $8 billion in annual sales of satellites and related equipment.
The multi-year plan calls for the government to annually increase support for space research and development by several hundred million shekels. This investment would focus on new platforms – primarily Israel’s niche market in “mini satellites” – intended to yield billions in sales.

The plan was drafted by a team of scientists and economists that includes Prof. Haim Eshed, head of the Defense Ministry’s Space Division, and the director-general of the Science and Technology Ministry, Menahem Greenblum.

Israel is one of the few countries that can independently develop, manufacture and launch satellites, Eshed told the Post in a recent interview.

“We have the assets, but we are not marketing them,” said Eshed.

Much of the investment will focus on the miniaturization of satellites and their payloads.

Israel’s specialty, Eshed said, lies in manufacturing “mini satellites” like the recently launched Ofek 9. These weigh just a few hundred kilograms, in contrast to the mammoth satellites of several tons operated by the United States and Russia.

Despite Israel’s advanced technology, sales of its space platforms over the last 20 years have totaled less than $2.5b. Yet the international space market, Eshed stressed, is $250b. a year, and Israel could carve out at least 5% for itself.
Read the whole thing. The picture is the Amos 2 satellite.


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