Israel is set to simultaneously launch two new satellites into space for the first time.
On Wednesday, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) launched the two satellites on the Vega launcher in French New Guinea. The satellites are the OptSat 3000 spy satellite, acquired by Italy’s Ministry of Defense, and Israel’s first environmental research satellite, Venus.
In 1984, Avi Blasberger was one of the first engineers at the Elop company, now owned by Elbit Systems, transferred to working on a top secret project: developing the camera for Israel’s forthcoming spy satellite, a capability only possessed by the US and the USSR at the time.
“Years later, a South Korean delegation visited us and asked who taught us to build satellites,” recounts Blasberger, now the director of the Israel Space Agency. “I said we learned it from books, and they said that was impossible. Nevertheless, they ended up buying a camera for their observation satellite from us.”
NASA has launched dozens of research satellites. What can Venus do that we haven’t already seen?
“Venus will be used by precise agriculture and environmental studies researchers. It’s equipped with a state-of-the-art camera developed by Elop, which is able to snap photos at 12 wavelengths. 110 sites were selected, which will be photographed by Venus once every two days, a repetition of relatively high frequency no other satellite possesses. Alongside its scientific mission, however, is also an engineering one—to test an electrical propulsion system developed by Rafael, which will someday allow observation satellites to circle more closely to Earth, thereby improving the sharpness of their images—something which has vast commercial potential. In the first two and a half years, the satellite will circle Earth at an altitude of 700 km, then dropping down to 410 km where the new propulsion system will be tested.”
Reported by: YNET News