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Israel is interested in acquiring micro-satellites, OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan said on Wednesday, at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya.
Hosted by the Fisher Brothers Institute for Air
and Space Strategies Studies, the conference brought experts and leaders in the aerospace industry together to discuss space technology. Also attending was NASA director Charles Bolden, who was on his first visit to Israel.
Rafael Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) teamed up in 2005 to develop lightweight micro-satellites that could be launched aboard a missile from an F-15 fighter jet and orbit the earth.
Israel already conducts missile defense interception tests with Rafael's Blue Sparrow missile that is fired from an F-15 into space and then reenters the atmosphere, impersonating a ballistic missile.
Micro-satellites, officials said, would provide the IDF with a new level of versatility and enable it to launch satellites for specific missions while leaving its main space assets - the Ofek 5, Ofek 7, and TecSar - for intelligence-gathering and strategic operations.
Also at the conference, Elbit Systems Ltd. unveiled Israel's newest Jupiter space camera. The camera will be installed on a new satellite, under development by IAI and called the Opsat 3000, scheduled to be launched into space later this decade and to be capable of unprecedented optical remote sensing with extremely high resolution.
The Jupiter will be capable of providing 50-centimeter resolution in comparison to the current camera that can observe objects 70 centimeters long.
Meanwhile Wednesday, IAI also unveiled its latest communications satellite, the Amos 4, which it said is one of the most advanced satellites of its kind, weighing 4.2 tons. The satellite has 10 antennas which will provide coverage over Africa, Asia, and Europe.