SpaceX Explosion a Blow to Israel's Space Plans

The Israeli AMOS-6 satellite was destroyed when the SpaceX exploded in Cape Canaveral test launch, its repercussion will be felt in Israel.

Ora Coren
Ora Coren
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Ora Coren
Ora Coren

The cause of the explosion that destroyed the Israeli satellite AMOS-6 on Thursday is still unclear. A spokesman for Israel Aerospace Industries, which built the satellite, said the company had passed the satellite over to the Israeli company Spacecom some time ago.

However, the loss of the satellite appears to have dealt IAI and the Israeli space industry a considerable blow. In fact, the satellite was supposed to advance new orders for building satellites by the Israeli firm.

When the order for AMOS-6 came in some four years ago, IAI said the satellite will include operating services for its life duration, estimated at about 16 years. It was a significant tender for IAI, whose orders book shrank last year.

IAI chairman at the time, Dov Baharav, said "winning the project reflects IAI's technological superiority and competitive edge compared to international giants that contended for manufacturing the satellite. It has a wider significance for us since the successful completion of AMOS-6 will position us at the forefront of world technology in this field."

Yossi Weiss, the CEO who conducted the negotiations said "the AMOS communications satellite consists of innovative technologies that constitute a step up for Israel and IAI's space capabilities."

He said that as part of manufacturing AMOS-6, IAI will develop various components and systems that will bring Israel closer to independence in developing and manufacturing communications satellites.

The tender for AMOS-6 was first published in August 2011. IAI contended for it against leading American, European and Russian companies.

IAI said in response to the explosion, "AMOS-6 is the largest and most advanced communications satellite ever to be built in Israel by IAI for Spacecom. It was completed a while ago and moved to the launching site to be put on a SpaceX launcher. We regret the satellite's loss due to a malfunction in the launcher and are at Spacecom's service in every matter. The communications satellite industry is strategic for Israel and IAI and we hope Israel acts to continues manufacturing communications satellites."

The Communications Ministry said "the Yes satellite company reported that the loss of AMOS-6 has no immediate impact on its broadcasts and service to its clients, but could have a minor effect on its service in a few months' time."

It was agreed that after Yes ascertains the future repercussions of the satellite's loss its officials will meet officials from the Cable and Satellite Council and from the Communication Ministry to examine ways of ensuring its continued service. At this stage broadcasts are receiving backup from the satellite AMOS-2, which is due to be decommissioned in several months, the company said.

Facebook too

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg expressed deep disappointment after a massive fireball and explosion erupted at the SpaceX's main launch pad, destroying a rocket as well as a satellite that Facebook was counting on to spread internet service in Africa.

“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

"Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided."

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