Free Competition in Space?

US believes limitations on export of commercial US satellites may be lifted. Should this happen, it could cause additional competition Israel’s space industry

The “complicated” situation of the Israeli space industry may worsen if Washington will remove the limitation imposed on the export of US satellites, primarily for commercial purposes or what is referred to as “dual purpose.”

Washington stated yesterday that there is “cautious optimism” with regards to the possibility that a total prohibition on the export of such satellites will be cancelled, or will be modified since commercial satellites have been included under the supervision of military system exports. The US space industry was hurt due to the inclusion under military systems, and it has been struggling to change the regulations for years. Now there is a possibility that this might take place.

If a change does occur, experts predict that the US will storm the international space market. Israel's space industry, which is primarily focused within Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Elbit Systems, has been trying to increase the export of civilian satellites for years. It saw several successes, the most recent of which was the contract signed with Italy for supplying an observation satellite. The contract is part of the Italian reciprocal procurement after the IAF's decision to select an Italian trainer aircraft.

The agreement was signed with the Italian Telespazio, which will be a subcontractor for the Italian Defense Ministry. In its framework, IAI will develop, manufacture and supply an observation satellite for $182 million.  IAI will produce a high-resolution photography satellite named OptSat 3000. After the construction of the satellite, the Italian company will be responsible for establishing a ground control station, launching the satellite into space and will carry out the initial operational work. The satellite will be delivered to Italy by 2015.

The Israeli space industry has been facing a lengthy period of "hidden unemployment" which is hurting the unique knowledge infrastructures.


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