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The ULTRASAT satellite will be developed and built by the Aerospace Industry

Israel Aerospace Industries has signed an agreement with the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Ministry of Science and Technology under which it will design, develop and build the first Israeli astronomical observation satellite

Illustration of an Ultrasat satellite (credit: Israel Aerospace Industries)
Illustration of an Ultrasat satellite (credit: Israel Aerospace Industries)

The Aerospace Industry has signed an agreement with the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Ministry of Science and Technology under which it will design, develop and build the "ULTRASAT" (Ultra Violet Transient Astronomy Satellite) satellite, Israel's first astronomical observation satellite. The satellite, which includes unique and groundbreaking capabilities and technologies, will be developed by the aerospace industry, which has rich experience in observation missions from space, both for security and civilian needs. The mission is supported by the Israel Space Agency in cooperation with the Weizmann Institute and includes partners in Israel and abroad, including the EL-OP company, the German research institute DESY and the American space agency NASA, which will launch the satellite into space. The latter two will even participate in the scientific research.

The "ULTRASAT" satellite will be launched in 2026 and will perform observations in space and photograph the universe in ultraviolet (UV). The main scientific mission of the satellite will be the discovery of momentary physical phenomena such as explosions of giant stars at the end of their lives ("super novae"). The rapid identification and warning will enable in-depth scientific research of those phenomena as well as the verification of complicated physical theories concerning the formation of the universe - which are not possible today when the phenomena are discovered randomly. The satellite will be placed in space in a geostationary orbit (at an altitude of 36,000 km), at a point where a continuous and permanent connection will be possible between it and the ground station, which will also be located in the aerospace industry complexes. The observations from the satellite will be continuously transmitted to the station and will be immediately transferred for analysis at the Weizmann Institute, from which notifications of discovery will be issued to all scientific partners.

The signed agreement joins the long and impressive list of the aerospace industry's achievements in the field of space in the recent period, which includes, among other things, the successful launch of the electro-optical satellite EROS C3, the development of the world's first dual observation satellite (OPTSAR550) that combines radar and optical imaging capabilities by satellite Single, on the next communication satellite of the State of Israel Dror 1 and more.

Director of a space plant in the aerospace industry, Shlomo Soderi: "The Aerospace Industry is proud to once again prove that the sky is not the limit for it, and that extensive activity in the fields of space is not the exclusive property of the world powers. As Israel's home of space, and thanks to the knowledge, technology and experience gained by the Aerospace Industry in the field, there is no doubt that the satellite" "ULTRASAT will succeed in its mission and will serve as a powerful scientific tool that will place the State of Israel at the forefront of global space exploration. The aerospace industry's space plant, which is leading the project, is staffed by the best professionals in their field, and they are the ones who bring the company to achievements beyond all imagination, as also expected in the "ULTRASAT" program.

Prof. Eli Waxman, an astrophysicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the principal investigator of ULTRASAT: "This is a scientific breakthrough project, which puts Israel at the forefront of global research. The recognition of the significant scientific contribution of the mission caused leading international organizations, such as NASA and the DESY research institute, to join as partners in the Israeli-led project. They invest significant resources in launching and building the camera in return for active participation and access to the scientific products."

The few astronomical observation satellites that have been placed in space to date have allowed science to investigate and discover new phenomena such as dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the contents of the universe - but their composition is unclear. In addition, these satellites led to the discovery of new planets similar in their characteristics to the Earth, and assisted in the many aspects of the research. Now, with the acceptance of the invitation for the development of an ULTRASAT satellite by the aerospace industry, a unique national scientific program is being launched which will provide the State of Israel, within a few years, with a powerful scientific tool in space. The contribution of the satellite is expected to be on a global scale.

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