Call for Funding of Space Industry in Crisis

Israeli minister of Science Ofir Akunis (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)

The Israeli space industry finds itself in a grave crisis in the wake of the explosion of the Amos 6 telecommunications satellite on the launch pad in Florida last September, according to the report of an investigatory panel on Thursday.

The panel was designated by Science Minister Ofir Akunis to examine the condition of Israel’s space sector after the Amos 6 setback and loss of contact with the orbiting satellite Amos 5.

At a press conference on Thursday, Akunis stated that the main point of the panel’s report is that the country must invest in the development of a new telecommunications satellite.

Currently, no replacement for Amos 6 is available, and officials are concerned that in time of need, Israel could suffer from lack of communications capacity, economic repercussions and disruption of daily life.

Akunis described it as “vital to Israel’s survival” to maintain its place as a leader in space telecommunications, and therefore it “must provide a budget” for this purpose.

Among the recommendations: A 120-million-shekel budget for the development of a multi satellite telecommunications system and promotion of the marketing of space technology abroad.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Spacecom said on Wednesday it would launch a new telecommunications satellite in 2019, Amos 17, to replace Amos 6.

To that end, it announced the purchase of a satellite from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million.

Amos 17 is aimed at expanding and strengthening Spacecom’s coverage of growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, it said.

Amos17 is designed to operate for more than 15 years.