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Israel’s space industry in “severe crisis”

The fallout of the September 1st destruction of the Amos-6 satellite in a catastrophic fire atop a Falcon 9 rocket continues to reverberate in Israel.

Let alone the question of whether the Amos-6 operator, Spacecom, is being sold to a Chinese investor (confirmed by Israeli press but then denied by Spacecom) a report from Science, Technology and Space Minister, Ofir Akunis bluntly tells the government that a significant cash injection is needed immediately to “rehabilitate Israel’s space program and build a new satellite to replace the Amos 6 satellite” destroyed in  September.

A Committee under Akunis recommended an immediate annual grant of NIS 20 million to the Space Communications Company (Spacecom) to lease a replacement for Amos 6 until a new satellite is constructed. An additional NIS 70 million is needed to launch a national, multi-year project to develop four more so the country is not dependent on foreign satellites, it said.  Spacecom has, in the meantime, leased a satellite from AsiaSat to serve clients from the lost Amos-6.

Additionally, the committee said the Israel Space Agency needs an annual budget of NIS 110 million. (NIS 30 million more than this year), and recommended building, every four years, a satellite to carry out engineering and scientific tasks.  “The space industry is in a severe crisis that threatens the national space program,” and replacing Amos 6 “is vital to ensuring Israel’s existence and maintaining our position in the small club of countries that operate in space,” the report stated.

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