IAI seeks to build satellite for Israeli government
The announcement by Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd. last month that it would order its Amos 8 satellite from US company Loral meant the loss of Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) sole satellite customer, putting its satellite activity in danger of closure. IAI announced today that it was promoting the construction of a communications satellite to be commissioned by the government, to serve both government and commercial needs, and to be stationed at point 4.0° W above the equator, a resource that belongs to the State of Israel, at the expense of Amos 8.
IAI said today that the idea arose from Spacecom's decision, and followed the loss of the Amos 6 satellite in the explosion that occurred on the launch pad in Florida in September 2016. "That satellite was one of the most advanced of its type, weighing 5.2 tons, and it had a special telecommunications payload that operated on several frequency ranges," IAI said.
"The plan being examined, whereby IAI will not only build the satellite but also operate it, will allow efficient us of government budgets allocated to this purpose, enabling Israel's know-how and capabilities in this strategically important field to be preserved, while generating additional revenue for IAI, which is wholly state owned.
"The satellite is planned for stationing at location 4.0° W, which is Israel's national space location, the broadcasting rights from which belong to the State of Israel. IAI will apply to the Ministry of Communications to obtain a license and allocation of frequencies at this location in space."
At this point, the satellite is an idea only, and there is no certainty that the government will adopt it, even though a committee headed by Ministry of Science and Technology director general Peretz Vazan recommended that the state should retain its capabilities in communications satellites and assist IAI's space division with NIS 70 million annually for sixteen years, during which time IAI would build four satellites.
The committee stated in its conclusions, published in 2016: "At the national level, within a short time the State of Israel will have available only two Israeli-produced communications satellites: Amos 3 and Amos 4. This means only partial ability to use communications satellites for national needs (civilian and military) of the State of Israel and its citizens. The consequence is that in an emergency there is a severe risk to the economy, to daily routine, and to security. In addition, there is a real risk that Israel might lose the locations in space at which it can station communications satellites in geostationary orbit." The reference is to three locations allocated to Israeli satellites, among them 4.0° W.