Awarded $19.3 Million U.S. Air Force for Weather Radar Satellites

Tel aviv-based, announced that it was awarded a $19.3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to support deployment of its proprietary radar-equipped weather satellites. The contract paves the way for a first-of-its-kind, commercially-owned constellation of approximately 32 small satellites to provide global coverage of 3-D precipitation and other critical weather and ocean observations, with much faster revisit times than currently available. will build and launch 4 satellites to demonstrate the technology and perform an extensive calibration and validation, with the first two satellites scheduled to launch in late 2022. On September 2021, it announced a strategic partnerships with Astro Digital and Muon Space for the development of its proprietary radar-equipped weather satellites, based Astro Digital’s Corvus-XL satellite platform (photo above).

One-hour revisit time

Radar can penetrate clouds and storms thus offers weather forecasts capabilities that no other sensor can match, including precipitation, flooding and hurricanes. The future constellation will expand radar coverage worldwide – covering each point on the globe once every hour on average, compared to the 2- to 3-day revisit rate of existing spaceborne radar missions such as NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission. will feed the data into its Weather Intelligence Platform. This solution aggregates real-time data from existing numerical weather prediction models including those from NOAA and ECMWF, as well as millions of virtual sensors around the world, to produce accurate and automated weather forecasts. The company was established in 2016 by veterans of the Israeli Air Force and according to its website it provides weather forecast services for approximately 1,000 businesses and major organizations, including Uber, Delta, Ford and National Grid.

SatixFy to Develop a Beam-Hopping Payload for OneWeb

Above: Artist’s representation of OneWeb future telecommuniction satellite

A group of UK space tech companies, sponsored by Government funding, are developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will allow satellites to allocate capacity momentarily according to demand. By changing the traditional forward link transmission from continuous to time-based burst. The beam-hopping satellite, nicknamed ‘Joey-Sat’, will be able to remotely direct beams to boost coverage in certain locations, such as areas of high usage where the network is struggling to cope with demand. In this revolutionary technology, the traditional color separation (frequency/polarization) is replaced by time division multiplexing over a single frequency carrier.

Led by global satellite communications network OneWeb, the industrial partners have received over £32 million from the UK Space Agency, via the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme, for a demonstration satellite due for launch in 2022. OneWeb team up with SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK, to demonstrate the technology for its second-generation constellation of satellites planned to be launch-ready in 2025.

The satellite’s pilot beam-hopping payload will be developed by SatixFy, based in Farnborough, UK, and Rehovot, Israel. The user terminal to support this satellite is also being developed by SatixFy, who have been awarded Government funding of approximately £25 million. “We are really excited to be demonstrating new game-changing satellite payload capabilities in space next year,” said Charlie Bloomfield, CEO of SatixFy. “UKSA and ESA support has been fundamental in unlocking these new technologies.”

OneWeb currently has 182 satellites with another launch of 36 satellites scheduled for 27th  May. Designed to provide organisations and governments with global and resilient connectivity services, OneWeb’s network will feature 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, global gateways and air, maritime and land user terminals. In late 2021, OneWeb will begin providing commercial services across the Arctic regions and expanding to global coverage in 2022.


Israel Launched the Ofek-16 Spy Satellite

The Space Administration in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), of the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), have successfully launched the Ofek-16 reconnaissance satellite into space, today (06.07.2020) at 4:00 AM. The launch was performed from a launch site based in central Israel, using a “Shavit” launcher.

The satellite began to orbit around earth and to transmit data, in accordance with original launch plans. IMoD and IAI engineers have started a series of pre-planned tests to determine the propriety and performance level of the satellite before it begins its full operational activities.

Ofek-16 is an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite, based on the experience gained by the production of earlier satellites in the Ofek series, which have been produced and launched since 1988. The satellite was launched into space using the Shavit launcher. Once the satellite is deemed fully operational, the Ministry of Defense will deliver responsibilities to the IDF’s ‘9900’ Intelligence Unit.

Israel’s Three-stage Satellite Launcher

The Shavit launcher is a three-stage satellite launcher, powered by three solid fuel rocket motors with lift capability of approximately 380Kg . The first two stages lift the launcher to an altitude of about 110 km. From this point, the launcher continues to gain height while coasting, positioning itself and ejecting the satellite shroud. Than the third stage motor inserts the satellite into orbit at an altitude of approximately 250 km.

Ofeq-16 satellite ready for integration on top of the Shavit launcher
Ofeq-16 satellite ready for integration on top of the Shavit launcher

While Ofeq’s payload is still unknown, Elbit had provided space cameras for many projects, including former Ofeq satellites. Its high resolution Jupiter imaging system was launched on board the Italian Ministry of Defense satellite OPTSAT 3000. The Jupiter space camera provides spatial resolutions of 0.5 meter resolution from an altitude of 600 km. It contains high resolution panchromatic imaging and has the capability of adding a multi-spectral channel.

IAI is the prime contractor, having assigned the program to its Systems, Missiles and Space Group together with the MLM Division, which is responsible for the development of the launcher. Elbit Systems is responsible for the development and production of the satellite’s advanced camera and payload. The launch engines were developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Tomer, a government-owned company. Additional companies have participated in the program, including Rokar and Cielo.