<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Israel plans launch of nano-satellites as low cost alternative to GPS satellites

Israel plans launch of nano-satellites as low cost alternative to GPS satellites

Friday, November 28, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

TEL AVIV Israel plans to launch its first nano-satellite next year to demonstrate its feasibility at a fraction of the cost of standard GPS satellites.

The Israel Nanosatellite Association intends to launch the first of two nano-satellites in mid-2009 from India.

The association said the launches, planned for between July and September, would demonstrate the feasibility of the platforms.

"This will be a proof-of-concept for new Israeli satellite technologies," INSA director Raz Tamir said.

Tamir, also manager of the new nano-satellite department of the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, said the micro-platforms could replace standard satellites in space. He said the satellites, meant to be designed and assembled within a year, could weigh up to 10 kilograms and cheap to produce.

The launch plans were drafted in wake of a 10-month study of the feasibility of a nano-satellite. Organizers said the research concluded that nano-satellites could replace global positioning satellites at a huge savings. Soon, two Israeli companies said they were prepared to help INSA.

"The next step was, 'Let's build one,'" Raz recalled. "So we're building two."

Organizers said the nano-satellites would be launched from India's Satish Dhawan Space Center. They said each platform would cost around $150,000, and that 60 nano-satellites could form a low-earth orbit constellation for constant coverage of the earth. A standard LEO satellite costs $15 million.

So far, Boeing has been the only Western defense major to have built and launched a nano-satellite. Organizers said INSA, founded by Israeli aerospace engineers in 2006, intends to assemble a constellations of such micro-platforms in space.

The Israeli nano-satellites would include Israeli and foreign subsystems. Organizers said Rokar, a subsidiary of BAE Systems, would provide GPS navigation; Accubeat would supply the atomic clock; ABSL Power Solutions would install lithium-ion cells. The Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, has designed a semiconductor for the onboard computer.

"We give people the chance to do hands-on development," Raz said.

   WorldTribune Home