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Defence Notes

Israeli space sector taps into potential of partnerships

8th June 2021 - 14:31 GMT | by Arie Egozi in Tel Aviv

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Tomer makes engines for the first two stages of the Shavit launcher. (Photo: IAI)

Israeli industry looks towards innovative propulsion systems and new-generation propellant.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is working with rocket propulsion centre of excellence Tomer on joint development of propulsion systems for rockets and missiles.

An MoU between the two companies, announced on 8 June, includes ‘investment in joint projects, mutual R&D and establishing infrastructure for the companies' respective R&D departments for the benefit of developing future, advanced technologies in the field of rocket propulsion and innovative rocket motors, at a higher quality and faster than in the past’, IAI and state-owned fellow Israeli company Tomer noted in a joint announcement.

Tomer CEO Mordi Ben Ami described IAI as a ‘central client’, adding that the new MoU ‘will boost R&D capabilities and will propel IAI's R&D capabilities to the forefront of global technology’.

Israel is also developing other new technology for military and commercial space launchers, such as the environmentally friendly gel from NewRocket that produces a stable and non-toxic engine propellant, without sacrificing performance and control.

At this stage, the gel propulsion is aimed at serving satellites in orbit.

Israeli experts say that it will take some more testing to see if gel propulsion can substitute existing fuels used in Shavit and other types of launchers.

The Israeli Shavit launcher, carrying ISR payloads, operates with a conventional three-stage propulsion system (with engines for the first two stages made by Tomer).

The first two stages of the original Shavit launch vehicle, identified as ATSM-9, were adopted from the Jericho 2 ballistic missile. A subsequent Shavit-1 upgrade used a stretched first-stage motor named ATSM-13, followed by Shavit-2 with a stretched motor for the first and second stages.

The first two stages boost the vehicle to about 110 km altitude.  The third stage and Equipment Case coast upward to about 250 km, where the third stage motor is spun up and separated for its burn. 

Typical missions insert payloads into an elliptical transfer orbit with a 250km perigee and 700km apogee.

The Shavit launcher offers various options for launching small satellites into low Earth orbit. The launch system is based on flight-proven hardware and software with a unique integration and launch concept. This reduces the launch preparation time significantly and consequently offers lower launch costs.

Additional reporting by Ben Vogel, London

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