Own path of development – Israeli Amos-6 communication satellite scheduled on 2016

Israel in spite of short modern history of the state has significant contribution in world space industry development.

First space focused organization was established in Israel on 1960. It was National Committee for Space Research, working under Tel-Aviv University. Main goal of Committee was intensification of cooperation and intellectual exchange between Israeli academic centers. First rocket was launched in 1961, after one year of existing of Committee. Due the political tensions between Israel and its neighbors it was clear, that sooner or later, space program will be used for military purposes. First signs of changing character of space program were showed in 1979, when necessity of creating reconnaissance satellite was announced. In 1983 after decision by Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense minister Ariel Sharon, and former director Aharon Beit Halahmi, Israel Space Agency was established. Space program gained official patronage of the State. After five years of intensive research first series of reconnaissance satellites was developed. Ofeq-1 satellite started fleet of ten satellites (last from constellation was launched on 2014) and it was first Israeli made satellite. Also in 1983 ISA started developing own launch vehicle, rocket called Shavit. In 1988 Ofeq satellite was launched and put into Low Earth Orbit utilizing Shavit rocket. In this way Israel became one of the smallest country with potential of designing and manufacturing satellites and launching systems. Next series of satellites were developed in the nineties. Amos was series of communication satellites started with launching on 16 May 1996. Until now, four additional Amos satellites were launched. EROS satellites series were developed and became operational in 2000. Three satellites were launched from Svobodny Launch Complex (utilized Russian Start-1), EROS-C third one from constellation, is scheduled for 2018. EROS series was developed as commercial observation satellites to help in exploring resources. Most recent satellite, designed for radar observation through clouds is TechSAR satellite, equipped in synthetic aperture radar. Successfully launched in 2008 with Indian PSLV rocket is considered as one of most advanced reconnaissance satellites in the world. In Israel there are also many different projects of small civilian satellites. One of most significant was designed and built in 1998 by student’s micro satellite called Gurwin TechSat, which set record for longest remaining university satellite. It finished operating in 2010. Another interesting satellite was created in cooperation with Dutch NLR labs, Fokker Space, and Rafael. It was research spacecraft called Sloshsat-FLEVO with fluid dynamics research as a mission objective. It was equipped with innovative silent propulsion propelled with compressed cold gas (it was one of requirements of fluid dynamics research) designed by ISA. Sad moment came in 2003 when Ilan Ramon, first Israeli astronaut died in Columbia disaster. Today ISA is involved in many research projects helping with its experience and innovative technologies.

Amos-6 mission scheduled on 2016 was delayed and originally was planned for 2015. Amos-6 is next communication satellite designed and manufactured in Israel and designated for replacing Amos-2. It will be operated by Spacecom, Israeli Company established to operate Amos series in 1993. Amos was designed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (with participation of foreign subcontractors) under worth $195 million contract signed in 2012 with Spacecom. As launch service provider was chosen in 2013 SpaceX, which is planning to utilize Falcon-9 rocket (it will be probably not the most recent Falcon-9 1.2v but older 1.1v with previous thrust control system). It was necessary due the weight of Amos. With 5300 kg it is out of reach of Shavit rocket. Falcon will lift Amos on GTO orbit; planned position is 4°West with apogee 35.800 km and perigee 35.785 km. As communication equipment is planned installing up to 43 Ku, Ka and S band transponders. It will provide three beams covering with range Middle East, Central East Europe (CEE) and Pan-Europe and sub-Sahara Africa. Propulsion system providing apogee injection is called S400 and was provided by Airbus Defense and Space. It is bipropellant thruster system, equipped with trimming orifices upstream of the propellant control valves. For maneuvering electric propulsion made by Thales Alenia Space is envisaged.  Power consumption of the satellite is 9 kW, and it will be ensured by deployable two solar panels provided by Encore (ZTJ triple-junction solar cells), solar planar unfolding modular array (PUMA) made by Alliant Techsystems and built-in battery .As far as commercial aspect, it was announced on October 2015 that main customers will be social media platform Facebook and Eutelsat. Contract worth $95 million includes leasing 36 Ka band transponders for five years; costs were shared equally between Facebook and Eutelsat.