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Israeli Space Agency

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Title: Israeli Space Agency  
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Subject: European Space Agency, Tactical High Energy Laser, Ilan Ramon, Shavit, Yuval Ne'eman, List of space agencies, Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, 1998 in spaceflight, Ezra Orion, List of space observatories
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Israeli Space Agency

Israel Space Agency
סוכנות החלל הישראלית
Established 1983
Primary spaceport Palmachim Airbase
Administrator Aluf (retired) professor Yitzhak Ben Yisrael
Budget About US$ 6 million
Website ISA homepage

Israel Space Agency (ISA; Hebrew: סוכנות החלל הישראלית‎, Sochnut HeHalal HaYisraelit) is a governmental body, a part of Israel's Ministry of Science and Technology, that coordinates all Israeli space research programs with scientific and commercial goals. It was established in 1983 and is currently headed by Major Gen. (ret.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael. Israel is the smallest country with indigenous launch capabilities.


In the '70s and '80s Israel developed the infrastructure needed for research and development in space exploration and sciences. This activity was marked with the development of satellites and launching facilities, and had the proclaimed goal of Israel entering the "club" of states with those abilities. In November 1982 the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Yuval Ne'eman, announced the formation of an agency which could coordinate and supervise a national space program.[1]

In 1984 the National Space Knowledge Center was established in cooperation with Israel Aircraft Industries; a contract was signed between IAI and Ministry of Defence for the development of the needed infrastructure and of Israel's first observation satellite. This came to fruition in 1988 when Israel launched the first in a series of Ofeq satellites and thus became one of only a few nations in the world possessing an indigenous space launching capability (see timeline of first orbital launches by country). The project management at Israel Aircraft Industries was headed for many years by Dr. Moshe Bar-Lev.


The agency vision as defined by the guiding committee on July 27, 2005 states:

"Space research and exploration is an essential instrument for the defense of life on Earth; the lever for technological progress; the key to existing in a modern society; essential for developing an economy based on knowledge; and the central attraction for scientific and qualified human resources."

The vision is "to preserve and broaden the comparative advantage of Israel and to place it among the group of leading countries in the space research and exploration area."

The main goals for vision realization are:

  • To build and to support satellite systems for space research and for Earth research from space.
  • To develop technologies, knowledge and scientific infrastructure (including laboratories and human resources) required for space research.
  • To promote international cooperation in space research and exploration, and for strengthening the national interests of Israel.
  • To promote ties between Israeli society, space research, and exploration.

ISA has signed cooperation agreements with the space agencies of: USA (NASA), France (CNES), Canada (CSA), India (ISRO), Germany (DLR), Ukraine (NSAU), Russia (RKA), Netherlands (NIVR) and Brazil (AEB).


The budget of the Israel Space Agency is approximately 6 million USD. This doesn't include funds allocated for the Venus Project (about 6 million USD) and the 70 million USD allocated annually for the Israeli military program. Commercial programs are managed on different budgets.


Israeli launcher

  • Shavit - Series of satellite launchers. It is used to launch Ofeq satellites.

Israeli satellites

Satellites in development

Commercial Space Arena

Since the launching of that first satellite, Israel has developed into a significant player in the commercial space arena. In 1989, it launched Ofeq-2; in April 1995, it took a leap forward with the launch of Ofeq-3, which carried an advanced electro-optical payload built by Israeli industry for local purposes. Ofeq-3 has been functioning without a hitch. Following a setback with Ofeq-4, Ofeq-5 was successfully launched in May 2002.

On May 16, 1996, a French-built vehicle launched the commercial satellite Amos, developed by the Israel Aircraft Industries, into the sky. The Amos is distinguished for its light weight and sophisticated technology.

Israel is also actively involved in the TAUVEX (Tel Aviv University Ultra Violet Explorer), developed by an Israeli hi-tech firm. TAUVEX is a cluster of three bore-sighted 20-cm telescopes for observation in the ultra-violet funded by the Israel Space Agency. It was due to be launched by India on board the ISRO satellite GSAT-4 satellite but due to a mis-match between the capabilities of the launched and the mass of the satellite, ISRO decided unilaterally to remove TAUVEX from GSAT-4.

Other local projects include the Techsat, a satellite developed by the Technion, and the pending manufacture of the David, a commercial remote sensing satellite developed jointly by an Israeli hi-tech company and a German firm. Tel Aviv University is conducting research based on G.P.S.T. (global positioning system technology); Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is at work along with a private company on desert research and ground humidity; and Bar-Ilan University makes use of imaging techniques to seek surface saline concentrations.[2]

Israeli Space Industry

ISA, the Israeli Industry and Academy are all involved in different stages of research, development, construction, launching and operating in a series of programs. This page contains information regarding the Israeli Space Industry.

The main contractor of the "Ofeq", "Eros" space programs is the IAI Mabat factory in Yahud. The Mabat facility includes the Experiment and Integration Center as well as the ground monitoring and control stations and the remote satellites receiving stations.

Many of the high-tech companies are involved in the various space programs in Israel, and in manufacturing sub-systems and components.

The IAI Electronics Group

The IAI Electronics Group is one of the best of the electronic systems manufacturer for security and space systems.

The group was also the main contractor for the assembling of the Ofek, Amos and Eros Satellites, and provides a wide range of products, such as: preliminary planning, detailed planning, program execution, and full logistic support.

The group includes four factories:

  • Elta
  • Mabat
  • Tamam
  • Malam

These factories, with all their various abilities and technologies, are active for years in developing and manufacturing products and systems in the field of space systems development especially for military purposes, even though on recently years they have entered the international civilian space industry scene, with the assistance of ISA.

Thanks to the substantial resources invested in these factories and the skilled manpower, the Electronics can plan, develop and manufacture space platform and mounted subsystem. The group is ready to provide satellite systems with top performance, using the Turnkey method.

IAI - Mabat

Mabat's Space Technologies Administration was chosen by ISA to be the main contractor for Israel's national space programs. This administration includes, in one framework, all the engineering capabilities required for developing and constructing satellites, including full integration and performance tests. In addition, the administration also provides operational capabilities including surveillance, control and monitoring station, as well as multi-satellite ground stations for remote sensing.

The Space Technologies Administration in the Mabat factory is responsible for developing and manufacturing satellites in IAI (Until today, all satellites developed and constructed by Israel were developed in the Mabat factory, excluding the Technion's TECHSAT satellite.)

The Administration also operates satellite receiving stations, from where it can controls the Ofek, Amos and Eros satellites.

In addition, a RIMS (Ranging and Integrity Monitoring Station) ground station will be constructed, as a part of the satellite-based navigational array constructed by the ESA.

IAI – Malam

Malam is one of the four factories in the IAI Electronics Group. The factory is very experienced in development, assembling, testing and operating system for use in space.

The Malam factory has developed the "Shavit" launcher which allows low-cost and high-reliability launch of micro/mini satellites to a Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The development of the "Shavit" began on 1983 and its operational capabilities were proven on three successful launches of the Ofek satellites on September 19, 1988; April 3, 1990; and April 5, 1995.

The "Shavit" is a triple-stage launcher. The first and second stage engines are manufactured by Ta'as, and use solid fuel. The third stage engines are manufactured by Raphael. Recently, Malam is trying to insert the Shavit launcher and more advanced models of the launcher to the international space industry market.

Raphael (Hebrew abbreviation for Weapon Systems Development Authority)

Raphael's propulsion department is the propulsion systems supplier for Israel's space projects. Raphael was chosen to develop, test and manufacture the advanced engine for the "Shavit" launcher's third stage engines, and the engines used for the navigation of the "Ofek" satellites into orbit.

Raphael's contribution for Israel's space activity is manifested in development and manufacture of the third stage engine of the "Shavit" satellite launcher, a solid fuel engine made from titanium. This engine is considered one of the most advanced technology in the world.

The second significant contribution is the small hydrazine engines which are used for precise navigation procedure in the "Shavit" launcher, and the various satellites.

Raphael, with the direct and indirect assistance of ISA, was integrated in the international space industry market, in several projects like SLOSHSAT and other small French satellite projects.

El-Op Electro-optic Industries

El-op's developments include one of the best space cameras in the world, integrated in the "Ofek" and "ERDS" satellites.

Along with scientists from the University of Tel-Aviv, El-Op developed a space telescope for sub-violet spectrum range, TAUVEX, which was first supposed to be launched on the Russian-International satellite Spectrum Rontgen-Gamma (SRG), as part of an international astronomy observations program. Delays with SRG caused a search for an alternative launch, found in the form of India's ISRO GSAT-4 satellite. Reduced capability of the indigenous cryogenic fourth stage of the GSLV launcher required a mass reduction of the GSAT-4 satellite that was realized partly by removing TAUVEX.[3]

Other activities include the development of the miniature horizon cameras for micro and mini satellites. The Technion's satellite, Gurwin-2-TechSAT is equipped with an El-Op low-resolution camera.

El-op has also developed, with ISA direct and indirect support, a multi-spectral camera, which could capture a 12-colored image in a 5-meter resolution, for commercial purposes.

El-op developed the TAUVEX space telescope for Tel Aviv University, under contract with the Ministry of Science (sometimes known also as the Ministry of Technology, or of Sport and Culture, depending on the political coalition in power).

Cooperation with the Academy

The Israel Space Agency strives to promote space research and space technology development as a part of the effort to promote the Israeli scientific research.

Furthermore, ISA works to strengthen the R&D relations in the field of space between Israeli researchers and researchers from abroad.

The advancement of research and development in the field of space requires the strengthening of scientific and technological knowledge centers, based on concentrating manpower with special capabilities, and in many cases it also requires significant financial investments for equipment and new and special facilities.

In order to enable the advancement and execution of work plans and development programs in this field, which strengthen and advance Israel's space-related capabilities, the Ministry has initiated, via ISA, the establishment of new knowledge centers, committing to aid in their regular budgeting.

The knowledge centers committed themselves to provide services in their specialized field of science to the entire R&D system (Israel and worldwide), including the industrial sector. These centers will also provide scientific and technological support to ISA, and advise ISA in establishing its policy and programs for international and national activity.

The Knowledge Centers sponsored by ISA:

There are currently 3 Knowledge Centers sponsored by ISA, spread across the country, in cooperation with researchers from the Tel-AvivUniversity, in various fields.


This research, headed by Prof. PinhasAlpert, is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology as a part of the Space Scientific and Technological Infrastructure Development program. The research is at its fifth year of activity.

The junction was initiated by NASA and according to NASA's director's request, as a part of the cooperation agreement between the director of NASA and the director of ISA, signed on October 1996.

The KnowledgeCenter, or "The NASA Junction", is site that links NASA and Israeli researchers in the field of Remote Sensing, Planetary Research, and Climate and Environmental Changes.

The Junction is also integrated in NASA's global Information System: Earth Observing Science Data and Information System, which contains Remote Sensing Data from NASA and NOAA satellites, and data from other sources like meteorological RADAR and readings from meteorological stations.

The Junction is the only source in the country which focuses on collecting and preserving environmental information in Israel, which is linked to NASA, and which provides information to the scientific community and to the public in general. The Junction provides free access to NASA's data, and access for worldwide clients to data collected in Israel. This information is critical for environmental and water related research, especially in light of the drastic global environmental changes and global warming.

The Junction was established by using money from the University of Tel-Aviv and ---. On the first stage, ISA aided in operating the junction, as a part of the "Researchers Funding" program. We are now at a transformation stage that will enable the funding of the project as a knowledge center.

Knowledge Center for Cosmic Radiation

This research is headed by Dr. Gideon Bela and Prof. Lev Dorman from the University of Tel-Aviv. It is the second year the center operating. The observatory is located on mount Hermon, and is funded by Tel-AvivUniversity's Research Authority and the Lab for Data Processing in Katzerin.

The goal of the center is to monitor and forecast dangerous meteorological and space phenomena: Solar radiation storms and shockwaves between very powerful stars creating magnetic storms. These phenomena can endanger electronic systems in satellites and space shuttles, the astronauts' health, electronic and navigational systems in aircraft flying in extremely high altitudes and ground power systems.

The Cosmic Radiation Observatory named after Emilio Sagara was donated by the Italian Space Agency, and it is located on Mount Hermon.

Technical Knowledge Center on Near Earth Objects

This center is headed by Dr. Noah Brosch from Tel Aviv University and operates the two telescopes of the Wise Observatory to study minor bodies in the Solar System. Following the cessation of funding from ISA, the asteroid studies are continuing at the Wise Observatory with no specific financial support.

Near Earth Objects are comets or asteroids (small planets), which could, theoretically collide with the Earth in their orbit. If these objects are larger than 50 meters or so, their impacts could result in sever damage and even total annihilation (as in the case of the asteroid that hit 65 million years ago, annihilating the majority of species living on Earth).

NEO research is conducted in several countries, and their goal is to map the objects which pose a threat and to find a solution which will enable us to eradicate it.

For this purpose, a special wide-field 0.46-m telescope was acquired by Tel Aviv University and is operating at the Wise Observatory located near Mitzpe Ramon. The telescope facilitated the discovery of several tens of new asteroids.

Israeli astronaut

Ilan Ramon was Israel's first astronaut. Ramon was the space shuttle payload specialist on board the fatal STS-107 mission of Space Shuttle Columbia, in which he and the six other crew members were killed in a re-entry accident over southern Texas. Ramon had been selected as a Payload Specialist in 1997 and trained at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, from 1998 until 2003, for a mission with a payload that included a multispectral camera for recording desert aerosol (dust).[4]

See also


External links

  • ISA Home Page

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