Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel - Israel Aircraft Industries/MBT Division announces the launch of its EROS A1 satellite by the Russian
Early reports indicate a successful launch into orbit.
EROS-A1 satellite carries a high-resolution electro-optical camera that will make commercial digital imagery services available to users around the world.
MBT's EROS A1 is the first in a series of satellites in a multi-phase program delivered to ImageSat International, a joint venture, in which IAI, American and European investors are partners.
Last month, IAI/MBT teams arrived in Svobodny, the Russian launch site, to prepare the satellite for launch and direct the entire launch campaign.
The satellite was launched today 5 December, 2000 at 12:32 GMT, into Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO). In this polar orbit, the satellite circles the earth over its poles every 94 minutes and crosses the equator, maintaining the same local time. SSO gives the satellite total coverage of the earth for various imaging tasks.
Once in orbit, EROS A1 will undergo a series of tests by MBT's engineers to verify its operation and performance capabilities. These in-orbit tests are expected to last about a month.
At this hour the satellite has completed 2 orbits. Systems checked by the control room show that they are functioning properly.
The 250 kg launch weight of EROS A1, includes fuel for a few years of mission life. Its unique light weight (about one third of competing satellites) makes the satellite highly maneuverable and efficient in performing its imaging tasks. Because of the satellite's lightweight, the EROS A1 control system easily maneuvers the satellite from side to side in order to image, with remarkable agility, specific and focused targets.
IAI/MBT teams will control the EROS A1 satellite from the main Ground Station at IAI/MBT's facility. This main Ground Station was also developed and manufactured by IAI/MBT.
IAI/MBT successfully launched LEO (Low Earth Orbit) type satellites in 1988 and 1990. These were the experimental OFEQ-1 and OFEQ-2 satellites. The Observation OFEQ 3 satellite was launched in April 1995. These LEO type satellites orbit the earth at altitudes ranging from 400 to 1000 km and circle the earth approximately every 100 minutes. They serve as platforms for observation, communication and for scientific purposes. Mr. Itzhak Nissan, MBT General Manager, said, "MBT Division is an 'under-one-roof' center that provides wide range of space activities in Israel. It ranges from design, development and manufacture of satellites and subsystems, integration and testing facilities, through earth stations that offer the capability to track, control and command in-orbit satellites and payloads".
MBT total sales for the 2000 reached $260 million, as compared to $220 million in 1999. Sales forecast for 2001 will exceed more than $300 million. The backlog in 2000 reached $800 million, and the forecast for 2001 is approximately $ 1 billion.
Few days, following the successful launch of the "EROS A-1" satellite, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the State of Israel,
Mr. Ehud Barak, sent this letter of congratulation to Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI):
Gen. (Ret.) Ori Orr - Chairman of the Board - IAI
Mr. Moshe Keret - President & CEO - IAI
Employees of IAI
On behalf of the government of Israel and myself, please accept our congratulations following the successful launch of the "EROS-1" satellite.
This achievement is the successful outcome of a superior technological and scientific effort, demonstrating the ability, pursuit of excellence and persistence that characterizes IAI's employees.
This success belongs to each and every one of you. It stands above all expectations, and, proves, once again, that knowledge and talent have no frontiers.
The Prime Minister
and Minister of Defence
Government of the State of Israel