Israel has decided to launch its next spy satellite aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rather than on its own indigenous Shavit rocket, according to a report in Spacenews, the Washington-based weekly on global space business.
The report quoting Israeli officials in Tel Aviv said Israel’s defence ministry and the state-owned satellite producer, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), are finalising with Indian officials contractual agreements for the planned October 2006 launch of TECSAR, Israel’s first synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite.
“On the government-to-government level, a pre-existing bilateral accord on strategic co-operation (between India and Israel) already covers most aspects of the mission,” the report said. The estimated 260-kg TECSAR is slated as the exclusive payload on the PSLV, which will be launched from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, the report said.
Since 1999, India has launched four foreign satellites — a Belgian, a Korean, and two German — aboard the PSLV, which has emerged as Isro’s commercial workhorse launcher. All four satellites were less than 100 kg in weight and flew as “piggyback passengers” with India’s own remote sensing satellites as the main payloads.
India has also signed contracts for the launch of individual satellites for Indonesia, Italy and Singapore in the coming years.