Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will develop and build Israel's national communications satellite, to be called Dror 1. It will largely be based on Israeli technology, and is intended to answer the country's satellite communications needs for fifteen years. The project's estimated cost is $190-200 million, most of which will be borne by the state.
According to the agreement signed by the state with IAI, Dror 1, which will be the first of series of future satellites, will be ready for launch within four years.
The agreement implements a decision made by the government in 2018 to promote a long-term communications satellites strategy. One of the considerations that led to the decision was the preservation of capabilities considered vital to the country, as well as maintaining independence in communications satellites.
The last communications satellite built by IAI was Amos 6, for Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd. (TASE:SCC), but it was destroyed on September 1, 2016 when the SpaceX launcher on which it was mounted blew up.
Spacecom bought its next satellite, Amos 17, from Boeing, thereby putting in question the future of the communications satellite industry in Israel. Amos 17 was successfully launched last November, leaving concern at IAI over the future of its communications satellites business, because of the lack of orders.
The Dror 1 satellite will be developed by IAI's Systems Missiles & Space (SMS) Group, which is responsible for, among other things, the Arrow 2 and 3 defense missiles and the Barak 8 surface-to-air missile. "In recent years, IAI has invested huge research and development budgets and has made great efforts to preserve communications satellite capabilities in Israel," said Boaz Levy, head of the Systems, Missiles & Space Group. "We are very glad to be going ahead with Dror 1, which will be the most advanced communications satellite ever built in Israel."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 2, 2020
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