haim eshed 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel stands to lose its qualitative military edge in space as the government
refuses to increase financial support for research and development, and Iran and
other countries in the region work to improve their capabilities, Brig.-Gen
(res.) Haim Eshed, who stepped down this week as head of the Defense Ministry’s
Space Division, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Eshed, 73, founded
the Space Division more than 30 years ago and led it until
During that time he promoted Israel’s space capabilities,
which today consist of 10 satellites in space. He will now serve as a director
at the Israel Space Agency, which is part of the Ministry of Science and
“Today we have a relative edge over the rest of the region
and parts of the world in certain space capabilities, some of which other
countries are trying to copy,” Eshed told the Post
in an exclusive interview
marking his retirement from the Space Division. “If, however, we do not increase our investments in the next
two years, we stand the risk of losing our edge.”
Behind Eshed’s warning
is the government’s refusal to release funds that it had pledged last year as
part of an ambitious plan to turn Israel into a space superpower. If the money
is not allocated, Eshed warned he and other senior Israel Space Agency officials
The plan was approved by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
and was supposed to lead to the allocation of NIS 1.5 billion over five years as
an investment in space research and development that would lead to an increase
Despite Israel’s advanced technology, sales of its space
platforms over the past 20 years have totaled less than $2.5b. Yet the
international space market, Eshed stressed, is worth $250b. a year, and
Israel could carve out at least 5 percent for itself.
he said, is in the development and production of “mini satellites” like the Ofek
9 reconnaissance satellite that was launched in June 2010.
just a few hundred kilograms, in contrast to the mammoth satellites of several
tons operated by the United States and Russia.
“The money was supposed to
be put into the budget reserves, but it is still not being released,” Eshed
said, warning that due to the low demand, Israeli defense industries would begin
to neglect space programs and to fire workers or move them to nonrelated
“The industries currently do not have projects, and if the money
does not come in, as a result more projects will collapse and we could lose the
qualitative edge we currently have in the world,” he said.