Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed an agreement with the Weizmann Institute of Science and Israel’s Ministry of Science, under which it will design, develop, and build the ULTRASAT (Ultraviolet Transient Astronomy Satellite), Israel’s first astronomical observation satellite. The satellite, which incorporates ground-breaking and unique technological capabilities, will be developed by IAI, which has extensive experience in observation missions from space, both for military and civilian applications. together with partners in Israel and elsewhere, such as Elop, DESY (the German Electron Synchrotron), and NASA, which will launch the satellite into space. DESY and NASA are also participating in the scientific research programme.
ULTRASAT will be launched in 2026, to perform space observation and image the universe in the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the spectrum. The satellite’s main scientific mission will be the detection of transient astronomical events, which take place in a short astrophysical time period, such as supernova explosions. Rapid identification and early-warning of these events will allow scientific research to be conducted on them, and the complex physical theories concerning the formation of the universe to be modified, something which is not possible today when stellar events are detected randomly.
The ULTRASAT satellite will be placed in geostationary orbit (some 36,000 km from Earth), at a point which will allow for continuous contact with the ground station located at IAI. The data observed by the satellite will be continuously transmitted to the ground station and be immediately transferred for analysis at the Weizmann Institute, which will issue notifications of any discovery to all scientific partners.
The agreement joins a long and impressive list of IAI’s recent achievements in space activities, including the successful launch of the EROS C3 electrooptical satellite, development of the world’s first dual-payload observation satellite (OPTSAR550) which combines radar and optical imagery in one satellite and work on the State of Israel’s next communications satellite – DROR 1.