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Star Wars: Israel Charts Ambitious Space Plans

Where No Jew Has Gone Before.. Except, we have.

Israel, already a leader in space technologies is looking to raise its profile in the space game. At stake? Military supremacy in the new century and a boatload of cash.

Activity this past week focused on a high profile meeting between Israel’s space agency head and Mr. Bolden (of recent Muslims in Space, Obama shenanigan fame) over at NASA.

Apparently good things come in small packages (who knew?), and when it comes to satellites Israel packs them in pretty tight. NASA has expressed interest in this miniaturization technology, and Israeli developed radars that can pierce the atmosphere for mapping Venus.

The minister said the conversation mainly focused on NASA’s interest in Israeli technological developments. “We’re going for grandiose collaborations in areas NASA needs us. There are talks about collaboration in at least three areas where Israel is a leading force in the world of space.”

According to Hershkowitz, the US agency showed interest in Israel’s ability to create light satellites which weigh a fifth of American and European satellites while having the same capabilities. Light satellites can be launched from aircrafts and not only from ballistic missiles.

Another Israeli specialty that caught NASA’s attention is hyperspectral cameras which can detect land, air and sea pollution from space and classify types of soils and minerals. The two also discussed Israeli developments in the field of satellite antennas aimed at analyzing photos using radars. NASA is planning to map out Venus, and Israeli technology could help it see through the planet’s layer of clouds. [...]

An agreement of future intent’ has now been been struck with NASA, complete with fancy space words. Impressive!

Big Bang

Key Words for Iranians: My ICBM is bigger than your ICBM. The mammoth 3 Stage Shavit-2 launcher has orbital payload capabilities and can open Israel up to commercial markets - In Space!! (It kills them the Jooz beat Islam into space. Worse, we can come back down.. Right on top of their heads.)

Israel is currently one of only 8 countries capable of putting sats into orbit, and has done so on numerous occasions.

Even sexier, because of Israel’s generally hostile eastern borders Israel launches its satellite rockets opposite the earth’s rotation. A mean feat designed to prevent boosters & technologies falling into enemy hands. This counter rotation launch has necessitated the miniaturization Israel now excels at, putting satellites into lower earth orbits.

Paging Ahmadinejad – Please call your office.

Israel’s advanced home built 3 stage solid fuel Shavit-2 launcher, is now rumored to be capable of 800KG payloads.

That kind of  ‘Big Boy’ payload can deliver a lot of thermonuclear juice boxes. It is based on Israel’s multi-stage Jericho ballistic missiles, but those payloads also open Israel up to new markets. The most recent Shavit launch was in late June, the Ofek 9 military satellite.

TEL AVIV – Israel delivered its latest spy satellite into low Earth orbit on June 22, using an improved version of its indigenous Shavit launcher, defense sources here said.

An official Ministry of Defense (MoD) notice of the launch, which took place about 10 p.m., was expected by midnight, once technicians ascertained that the satellite appeared to be functioning. [...]

The Price is Right

Offek and this miniaturization spell commercialization. Which while not entirely related to the NASA news above, is part of the this week’s space focus.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to approve an ambitious plan to turn Israel into a satellite superpower. According to details obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the aim is to increase sales of Israeli space platforms to nearly $8 billion a year.

The multi-year plan calls for the government to annually increase support for space research and development by several hundred million shekels. This investment would focus on new platforms – primarily Israel’s niche market in “mini satellites” – intended to yield billions in sales. [...]

Israel’s specialty, Eshed said, lies in manufacturing “mini satellites” like the recently launched Ofek 9. These weigh just a few hundred kilograms, in contrast to the mammoth satellites of several tons operated by the United States and Russia.

Despite Israel’s advanced technology, sales of its space platforms over the last 20 years have totaled less than $2.5b. Yet the international space market, Eshed stressed, is $250b. a year, and Israel could carve out at least 5% for itself. [...]

The combination of exciting NASA cooperation, and new commercial markets could have important benefits for Israel economically.

Feed naturally into defense applications, move Israel further into the realm of nanotechnology and open new avenues with technological and commercial partners. All the while solidifying our alliance with our favorite ally America well into the new century.

Jews are already in space, we’re just reaching higher.

Fast Track: Arrow 3 Raising The Bar on Missile Defense (Video)

Israeli program & needs dictate faster, higher capabilities

Arrow3

Boeing CGI of the jointly in development IAI Arrow 3 ABM interceptor

Last year, the USA radically altered its ballistic missile defense plans by scrapping its long range ICBM defense plan based in Europe in favor of shorter medium range defense systems. The main component of the new plans would be the SM-3 interceptor, currently in use on American AEGIS ABM Cruisers.

A major focus of the plan was to upgrade the SM3  interceptors themselves in capability, making them adaptable to launches from the ground as opposed to only at sea, amongst other capability upgrades in newer block variants of the missile.

Joint Effort

During testimony to the Armed Services Committee as a result of the scrapping of the ICBM program, we learned more about the Israeli Arrow - the next generation Israeli interceptor as well as the future of the SM-3. The new Israeli interceptor incorporates some intense new enhancements, and if deployed as planned will represent a significant jump forward for Israeli missile defense. If successful the program due to its advanced technology will likely also be employed by the USA, as it is slated to surpass the SM3 interceptors in capability and do so in the near term.

Leapfrogging current capability

The Israeli concept is to take the medium range interceptor Arrow 2s and make them more versatile in two ways. Exo Atmospheric, enabling them to intercept targets outside the atmosphere, combined with some radical advancements in self propulsion & sensors. In other words Israel wants the system to be able to self guide itself outside the atmosphere once the booster is released, allowing the actual interceptor warhead to track and seek targets solo. Instead of having multiple system designed for medium & longer range ICBMs Israel wants to combine it all into a medium system that can hit long range ICBMs in space, at least that’s my understanding of it all..

Lieutenant General Patrick J. O’Reilly, Director of the MDA:

“The design of Arrow 3 promises to be an extremely capable system, more advanced than what we have ever attempted in the U.S. with our programs” Gen. O’Reilly told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee for strategic forces. “This has to do with the seekers that have greater flexibility and other aspects, such as propulsion systems- it will be an extremely capable system”.

The benefits of the new interceptor would include the ability to sense decoys, and re-route interception to another target. Equally, in multiple volleys with large numbers of incoming missiles the system could in theory allow Israel to send up multiple ABM missiles and the individual interceptors could re-target other warheads if their initial target were already destroyed or perhaps missed.

Science Fiction?

The Americans say.. Possibly. The reasoning lies not behind the radical Israeli technology which makes all this theoretically feasible, but the compressed time frames. General Oreilly (the father of US ABM currently) laid out how the US goes about fielding & testing US programs (Video), usually measured in years verging on a decade or more. Israel seeks to develop, field & test this radical jump in just a few scant years.

The Israel Air Force will hold its first test of the Arrow 3, under development by Israel Aerospace Industries, in early 2011, officials said on Wednesday.

Jointly developed by IAI and Boeing in the US, the Arrow 3 will serve as Israel’s top-tier missile defense system, adding another layer of defense to that provided by the Arrow 2, which is already operational and deployed throughout Israel.

The initial test of the Arrow 3 will not include the interception of a mock enemy missile. An interception test will likely take place in 2012.

“The Arrow system can effectively counter all of the missile threats that exist in the region,” said Inbal Kreiss, the Arrow 3 project manager at IAI. [...]

The much more cautious Americans are skeptical, firstly they generally spend a ton more money than Israel does in development and this translates on time frames as well. Israel does development leaner & meaner in this regard as a consequence of not having as much funding or time for that matter.

In written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee June 16, O’Reilly said the Arrow-3 program has “very high schedule and technical risk,” leading MDA to fund work on a land-based version of the SM-3 as a backup.

Integration

Some of the benefits of this US skepticism are integration, as a backup Israeli arrow launchers will be modified to house the American SM3 interceptors (who’s advancement as stated will be longer in the coming). Equally, the Arrow 3 if successful will be able to integrate to American sea based launchers. Overall, the radar & detection systems are also being integrated more globally in line with the American new plan for its own missile defenses, as evidenced already by the deployment of the US X-Band Radar in Israel by G. W. Bush.

Can we succeed?

They said the Arrow itself (Hetz) could not be done as well in the 80s when it was initially proposed. The Arrow 2 is now fully deployed and can intercept Scuds & basic Shahabs as we speak. I would not bet against Israel again moving the ball forward in ABM Missile Defense. As it is the rush is on because of Iran’s large leaps in fielding ICBMs and nuclear capable missiles. In the end we don’t have much choice BUT to succeed..

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