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Israel officially entered the space age with the lift-off of its first satellite, Ofeq-1, from the locally built Shavit launch vehicle on September 19, 1988. The first astronaut of Israel was Ilan Ramon. Israel was the eighth country to have its own space launch capability with the Shavit rocket.

First Astronaut

Ilan Ramon was Israel's first astronaut. He was a Payload Specialist aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-107 who was killed when the craft disintegrated during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere in early 2003.  STS-107 was the 28th flight of NASA Space Shuttle Columbia.

Satellites:

Ofeq-1 was the first satellite launched by Israel. It was launched on September 19, 1988 on a Israeli-built Shavit three-stage launch vehicle. Ofeq-2 was launched in 1989. Ofeq-3 was launched in April 1995. Ofeq-3 carried an advanced electro-optical payload built by Israeli industry for local purposes. Ofeq-3 has been functioning without a hitch. Following a setback with Ofeq-4, Ofeq-5 was successfully launched in May 2002.

AMOS is a name for a series of Israeli communications satellites. AMOS are developed by Israel Aircraft Industries and operated by the private company Spacecom. AMOS 1 was the first Israeli communications satellite. Its development was based on experience from Ofeq reconnaissance satellites in association with DASA and Alcatel Espace. It was launched on May 16, 1996 from European Space Centre in French Guiana. AMOS 2 was launched on December 28, 2003 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan and it serves clients in three service regions: Middle East (including Israel), Europe and the east coast of USA.

EROS (Earth Resources Observation Satellite) is a series of Israeli commercial Earth observation satellites, designed and manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), with optical payload supplied by El-Op. The satellites are owned and operated by ImageSat International, another Israeli company. EROS A was launched, on December 5, 2000 and EROS B on April 25, 2006.

TECSAR is a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Technology Satellite. The design, development and fabrication activities of the satellite was led by MBT Space, a division of the Israeli Aerospace industries with the participation of other high tech industries such as ELTA, Tadiran Spectralink, Rafael. The satellite is equipped with a SAR payload with the capability to see through the clouds and carry out day and night all weather imaging. It was launched into orbit by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 21 January, 2008.

Israeli Space Agency

The Israeli Space Agency was formed in 1983.

Shavit

The Shavit 1 is a small, 3-stage, solid propellant booster based on the 2-stage Jericho 2 ballistic missile. The Shavit launches take place from the Palmahim air force base, south of Tel Aviv. The Shavit is launched in a retrograde orbit over the Mediterranean Sea to prevent debris coming down in populated areas and also to avoid flying above neighbouring countries to the east.

It was developed under the general management of Israeli Aircraft Industries and has an upper stage designation of AUS-51 (Advanced Upper Stage). The Shavit made its first launch on September 19, 1998, placing the Ofeq 1 engineering technology satellite into LEO.

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Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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