IAI Satellites - Leading in Space Development

Issue: 9 / 2020Photo(s): By IAI

Seeking to reach the highest frontier, IAI has pioneered space deployment in 1988, placing Israel’s first satellite, OFEQ-1, in low earth orbit. The OFEQ-5 was launched in 2002 and remains fully operational after 18 years in orbit. It was followed by additional satellites launched by IAI’s Shavit satellite launcher and commercial launchers as well. These were augmented by two TecSAR radar satellites. The most recent satellite that was successfully launched, is the Israel’s top-notched reconnaissance satellite, the OFEK-16, on July 06, 2020 from Israel. In addition, IAI was recently commissioned to develop and build Israel’s national communication satellite, DROR-1. The new satellite will carry an advanced digital communication payload enabling “smartphone in space” capabilities, delivering communication agility throughout the satellite’s lifetime in space.


IAI’s OptSat line of satellites has evolved through several generations of reconnaissance satellites and is currently positioned at the forefront of high-resolution imaging satellites used by intelligence services.

In the 21st-century combat arena, the ability to receive information quickly at a faster pace and utilise those intelligence data from space was categorised as an increasing need for the success of combat operations around the world. Imagery consumers are accustomed to obtaining satellite imagery at resolutions of 0.5 m and better, to provide clear, accurate, well defined images enabling extraction of fine details from satellite images.

With an image resolution better than 40 centimeters, with geo-location accuracy, OptSat 3000 is significantly lighter (400 kg) than other optical satellites with the same resolution levels. Therefore, it acquires images of many more targets with agility, throughput and advanced operational autonomy. Its light weight enables advanced maneuvering abilities, meaning that it can deliver many targets in high resolution. OptSat 3000 provides imagery for strategic and tactical intelligence, where rapid, precise visual intelligence on suspicious targets holds the key to mission success.


The world of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites is at the cutting edge of space-based intelligence capabilities. These satellites provide resolutions and detection capabilities that significantly boost the users’ ability to monitor large areas, supporting strategic surveillance and tactical operations alike.

Unlike satellite payloads using electro-optical imagery, IAI’s TecSAR satellites are useful in day and night and can penetrate through cloud cover. SAR products are enhanced by image processing algorithms enabling change detection, automatic detection of typical man-made objects such as missile launchers, vehicles, and ships. Like other IAI satellite platforms, TecSar is significantly smaller, lighter and more maneuverable than other satellites in their category.


IAI is involved with many space-oriented scientific projects managed with government research agencies, the academic community, associations, and commercial enterprises in Israel and abroad, promoting scientific research and technological achievements.

In orbit since 2018, the Venµs scientific observation satellite monitors hundreds of locations on earth using super-spectral camera payload. Built by IAI for Israel’s Space Agency (ISA) and its partner, the French National Center of Space Studies (CNES), Venµs has recently embarked on its third year in space, on a mission to explore earth vegetation and the environment from space.

IAI’s Beresheet spaceship, co-developed by IAI and SpaceIL has attracted worldwide attention, in an attempt to land on the moon surface. While the small spacecraft failed to complete a soft landing, the achievements demonstrated in this mission represents IAI’s heritage, innovative, technological and engineering knowledge in building light-weight space vehicles.

With the above mentioned IAI is open to such discussions within the regulations framework with the Government or private entities to enable local cooperation for the benefits and the needs as seen. Having such a fusion of joint synergies is seen beneficial for all involved.