Israel’s Technion Institute is toiling over the development of three new satellites that will operate together and sail in formation through space. The university will determine their relative position using laser communication systems, and will be able to alter their position in space in order to improve performance.
These satellites can also share missions. While one is photographing, another can operate sensory systems, and the third can deal with communicating with ground stations.
IsraelDefense learned that the construction of the satellites is presently in an advanced stage, and they are now under examination at the Technion’s laboratories for an upcoming launch.
The missions of the satellites, as defined by Yoram Lipovski—one of the space personnel working with micro satellites—may be as follows: electro-optic and electromagnetic observation spectrum, ELINT (Electronic Intelligence), and designated communications.
Lipovski noted that it is possible to overcome the disadvantage posed by the satellite's size by way of flight formation; using a group of satellites (two or three) to fly in identical orbits while maintaining a measured and fixed relative position between them.
In such a case, it is possible to operate them as one unit through communication systems when the mission components are optimally divided between all of the group’s satellites.
The satellites can also serve the military by having the three satellites photograph targets in space to increase the area or scanning band for photographic targets or rear examination. Furthermore, they can be used for communication purposes during emergencies.
The Technion operates a laboratory for satellite structure mobility, and engineers are currently improving the communication capability between the satellite groups. It should be noted that the Technion has previously developed the student satellite TechSat.
Two satellites of this type were launched into space. While one did not enter orbit due to a failure on the part of the Russian launch missile, the second satellite entered space and operated for 12 years, sending photos and responding to communications sent to it. The satellite is still in orbit.