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Monday, November 24, 2008

Video: Nanosatellites To Open Up The Heavens? (Israel)

When it comes to space above us, one realizes two things: there is a large amount of sky to cover, and launching anything into orbit is very expensive.

While companies like SpaceX may be able to reduce the price tag overall, launching a satellite for a small business may still be too expensive--unless of course you a nanosatellite.

(Israel 21st Century) The Israel Nanosatellite Association (INSA) is planning a first launch of two small satellites sometime between July and September 2009, most likely from the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. "This will be a proof-of-concept for new Israeli satellite technologies," says Dr. Raz Tamir, head of INSA and of Israel Aerospace Industries-MBT's newly minted nanosatellite department.

It will also make the case for the nanosatellite as a cost-effective alternative to its larger cousins. As the name implies, nanosatellites are small satellites with a mass between one and 10 kg (2.2-22 lb), designed to work in formation. Cheap to build and to launch, a constellation of 60 low-earth orbit (LEO) nanosats can cover the earth.

Because a nanosatellite is significantly lighter, several can be launched at a time - at a cost of about $150,000 per satellite, as compared with $15 million per launch of a single regular LEO satellite.

Although there will be many companies (and governments) who will need large satellites built for various reasons, nanosatellites could provide the key to open up the satellite industry to third world countries and medium sized corporations.

Hopefully the Israel Nanosatellite Association can prove these tiny machines worth, as it could help jump start the satellite industry as a whole (not to mention help Israel regain its foot hold into space).

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