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January 24, 2014 10:32 am

Israel to Launch First Civilian Satellite Into Orbit in 2015

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The International Space Station. Photo: NASA/Crew of STS-132. Israel will launch its first civilian satellite into orbit in December 2015, Israel Space Agency Chairman Maj. Gen. (res) Yitzhak Ben Israel said Thursday, Israel Hayom reported.

The Venus Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Microsatellite program was the joint project of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and French space agency Centre national d’études spatiales.

The Venus satellite will be launched from the Kourou Islands in French Guiana and was designed for earth observation. The project cost tens of millions of dollars and has an expected lifespan is at least 10 years.

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The ISA is slated to launch its largest communications satellite, Amos 6, in the second half of 2016. It is designed to stay in orbit for 16 years.

The space division of Israel Aerospace Industries has already built military (Eros series) and semi-civilian (Amos series) satellites, but the Venus represents the first purely civilian satellite— and its client is the ISA, affiliated with the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry.

According to the agreement signed with the French, Israel will be in charge of the hull of the satellite while the French are responsible for the optics and camera. Israeli company Elbit actually won the international tender for the camera, rendering the French contribution largely financial and the technology almost entirely blue and white.

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