IAI's VENUS, OPTSAT-3000 Satellites Successfully Launched into Space

Israel's first environmental research satellite was launched Wednesday morning from French Guiana, together with the OPTSAT-3000 observation satellite, built for the Italian Ministry of Defense

The launch (Photo: Arianespace)

Two IAI-made satellites were successfully launched on board the Arianespace's Vega launcher early Wednesday morning at the Guiana Space Center’s Kourou site.

Israel's first environmental research satellite, Venus, is a major project of the Israel Space Agency and the French space agency CNES. It was launched together with the OPTSAT-3000, an advanced observation satellite designed for use by the Italian Defense Ministry.

Venus will revolve around the Earth 29 times within 48 hours and repeat exact photo angles, making it possible to note differences in conditions – characteristics that make the satellite unique, said the ministry.

IAI's President and CEO Yossi Weiss stated that the satellites are "the glory of Israeli technology and reflect Israel’s international activities in space and the extraordinary cooperation with Italy and France. The state-of-the-art observation satellites program enables the development and production of local needs and exports and is supported by clear government policy in the field."

Weighing only 265 kg., Venus reached its position of 720 km above Earth within 37 minutes and 18 seconds. The first sign with preliminary data was received on the ground 5.5 hours after launch, but the initial images will arrive a week later. Processed images will be sent to users three months after launch. Venus is due to remain in operation for 4.5 years, after which it will be shifted to a lower trajectory.

Some 110 research areas will be photographed around the world. When the satellite passes over Israel, Venus will photograph three swaths in the Galilee, the coastal area and the Negev where most national parks, forests, ecological stations and nature areas exist. The photos will also benefit university, government, and state research institutes.

The second satellite sent up from Guiana Space Center was the OPTSAT-3000, an Earth observation program for the Italian Ministry of Defense. It comprises a high-resolution optical satellite and a ground segment for in-orbit control, mission planning and the acquisition and processing of images.

The OPTSAT-3000 system is supplied by the prime contractor Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo and Thales. The satellite and ground control systems were built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and selected by the Italian Ministry of Defense. OHB Italia is responsible for the launch services and related engineering support.

Israeli-made Space Imaging Systems

The two satellites launched to space yesterday were equipped with advanced space imaging systems developed by Elbit Systems. The high-resolution reconnaissance Jupiter imaging system, for the Italian Ministry of Defense, was launched onboard the OPTSAT-3000 satellite, while the super spectral VENµS imaging system was launched onboard the French-Israeli Venus environmental satellite.

The Jupiter space camera provides spatial resolutions of 0.5-meter resolution (PAN) from an altitude of 600 km and is Elbit Systems’ most advanced light-weighted space imaging system developed for installation on micro and mini-satellites. The JUPITER imaging system contains very high-resolution panchromatic imaging and has the capability of adding a multi-spectral (MS) channel. JUPITER is designed for a range of military and civilian applications including advanced military surveillance and reconnaissance, detailed high-value target investigation, definition of small and discrete objects and situational awareness. The civilian applications include homeland security missions, emergency planning and operations, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure imaging.

The VENµS space camera features 12 narrow spectral bands with 5.3-meter spatial resolution from an altitude of 720 km. The VENµS satellite has been developed and manufactured as a joint effort between the French Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Israeli Space Agency (ISA), Elbit Systems’ Electro-optics (Elop) and Israel Aerospace Industries. The VENµS imaging system provides multi-spectral high-resolution earth imaging, previously unmet by legacy space imaging systems for a variety of applications, including a global scale monitoring of agriculture, receding of forests and vegetation, desertification, air pollution, the detection of volcanic ashes, dehydration of water reservoirs as well as oil spills and water contamination. VENµS will play a vital role in creating guidelines for future scientific experiments and space imaging missions.  

[Source: The Jerusalem Post]

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