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Israel launches reconnaissance satellite

In its first launch since 2016, Israel yesterday successfully used its Shavit rocket to place a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

This was also Israel’s ninth successful launch since it completed its first in 1988. The country has averaged about one launch every four years since, almost of of which have been military reconnaissance satellites. Generally, the pattern has been for Israeli commercial satellites to get launched by other commercial rocket companies, leaving the military launches to Shavit.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race remain unchanged:

15 China
10 SpaceX
7 Russia

The U.S. leads China 16 to 15 in the national rankings.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • mkent

    This was also Israel’s eleven successful launch since it completed its first in 1988.

    Eleventh launch overall, but according to Wikipedia, the launches of Ofeks 4 & 6 failed in 1998 & 2004, respectively. Or are you counting something else?

  • mkent: I am counting what I have tracked of successful launches. The data comes from multiple space sources such as SpaceflightNow, the Space Launch Report, and the Encyclopedia Astronautica, to name a few. Wikipedia can be useful but as a source I would not rely on it solely.

  • mkent

    So which flights are you rating as a success, and which flights are you rating as a failure? Wikipedia lists them thus:

    Variant Launch Date Payload Status
    Shavit 19 Sep 1988 Ofek-1 Success
    Shavit 03 Apr 1990 Ofek-2 Success
    Shavit-1 05 Apr 1995 Ofek-3 Success
    Shavit-1 22 Jan 1998 Ofek-4 Failure
    Shavit-1 28 May 2002 Ofek-5 Success
    Shavit-1 06 Sep 2004 Ofek-6 Failure
    Shavit-2 11 Jun 2007 Ofek-7 Success
    Shavit-2 22 Jun 2010 Ofek-9 Success
    Shavit-2 09 Apr 2014 Ofek-10 Success
    Shavit-2 13 Sep 2016 Ofek-11 Success

    This jives with Encyclopedia Astronautica. The Space Launch Report also agrees with this except that it adds an unacknowledged test flight in 1994 as a failed orbital launch attempt while noting that it could have been a suborbital test, possibly of a different vehicle. All three sources agree on eight previous successful launches and which ones they were.

  • geoffc

    Also always worth pointing out they are the only orbiter booster who launches retrograde, against the earth’s revolution. Crazy Israelis, just launch west over the middle east, what could go wrong? China and Russia don’t seem to care if they drop a hydrazine burning stage on a village all that much.

  • mkent: I did some rechecking and find you are correct. I had listed the 1998 and 2004 launches as successes when they were not.

    I appreciate the zeal in which you check up on my work. Only makes it better. I will correct the post.

  • mkent

    Checking up on your work? No, not really. It’s just that the Shavit launch record was something I knew from memory, so when your figure didn’t match, I looked it up to make sure my memory wasn’t failing. I was thinking a few weeks ago they were overdue for another launch. We’re cool.

  • mkent: My thanks were sincere. I always like to get things right, and since I write so much, and have no copy-editor or fact-checker, having my readers help in those capacities is very much appreciated.

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