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Israeli Space Agency

The newest member of the so-called space club is Israel which has conducted only two successful space launches, the first in 1988 and the other in 1990. Following in the footsteps of India, Israel is first concentrating on the development of relatively simple launch vehicles with low payload capacity and of satellites based on proven technologies. Future activities may be biased toward the deployment of more sophisticated space systems (via domestic and commercial foreign launch services) rather than a significant advance in booster capability.

The Israeli Space Agency (ISA) was created in 1983 under the Ministry of Science and Technology and is chaired by Prof. Yuval Ne'eman. The Director General of ISA, Aby Har-Even, manages the agency in its duties to run the nation's space program, to coordinate research and space studies, and to promote the "development of space-related products by the private sector" (References 31-32). Cooperating with ISA to exploit Israel's fledgling capabilities in space are the Interdisciplinary Center for Technological Analysis and Forecasting of Tel Aviv University and the National Committee for Space Research of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

To date Israel's industrial base for launch vehicle and satellite development is narrow. Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (JAI) was the principal designer and manufacturer of the Shavit solid-propellant booster and the Ofeq experimental spacecraft and is developing the Amos geostationary communications satellite. Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority, was responsible for the AUS-51 which has served as the third stage motor of Shavit launch vehicle. The Asher Space Research Institute of the Technion Institute of Technology is developing the small Techsat (aka Gurwin-1), a 50-kg class satellite scheduled for launch in 1995, and El-Op Electro-optics Industries specializes in spaceborne sensors.

The official ISA annual budget is only about $50 million, but this does not cover launch vehicle development or most satellite programs. Instead, Israeli industry is making substantial investments in space technology, while the Ministry of Defense underwrites much of the infrastructure, including the Shavit launch vehicle and the Palmachim launch facility (References 33-36).


31. S. Fisher, "Israel Joins Up", Space, January-February 1991, pp. 12-14.

32. J. Simpson et al, "The Israeli Satellite Launch", Space Policy , May 1989, pp. 117-128.

33. C. Meyer, "Credits En Hausse Pour L'Espace Israelien", Air & Cosmos, 4 November 1994, p. 38.

34. M. Williamson, "The AMOS Technology Leap", Space, January-February 1995, pp. 19-21.

35. T. Pirard, "Israel Invests in Space Technology", Spaceflight, April 1995, p. 121.

36. P.B. de Selding, "ISA Petitions for Boost in Budget," Space News, 17-23 October 1993, p. 8.

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