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Scientist Says Arab Countries Are Ahead of Israel in Launching Communications Satellite into Space

A leading Israeli physicist says the Arab countries have gotten ahead of Israel in efforts to launch a communications satellite into space.

Haaretz Wednesday quoted Tel Aviv University Prof. Yuval Neeman as saying “this issue is still not getting the ‘push'” it deserves. He referred to the announcement that two Syrian cosmonauts will participate in an upcoming Soviet space mission. He said he hoped this “will stimulate the appropriate elements here to promote Israel’s participation in space exploration.”

Neeman, who heads the Tehiya Party, said Arab efforts to launch a communications satellite failed “due to a blunder on the part of its European manufacturers.” But “they continue their efforts. We still do not have a communications satellite of our own. but we should already have one.” Neeman said in an interview with Haaretz.

He noted that “according to an international convention, an area is reserved for us in space, over our region, for launching a communications satellite, but we are liable to lose it if we do not launch a satellite within four years.”

Prof. David Abir, deputy head of the Israeli Space Agency, dismissed Syrian participation in the Soviet space mission as primarily propaganda, Maariv reported Wednesday. Abir said it is doubtful that the Soviets would place all their equipment and the data from aerial photographs at the disposal of the Syrians.

Meanwhile, tests are being conducted at the Haifa Technion to improve the resistance of satellites, space craft and missiles to the intense hear generated by the return to earth’s atmosphere from outer space. Haaretz reported Wednesday. The tests make use of a new hot air tunnel which produces temperatures of 10,000 degrees Celsius by means of a five-megawatt electric generator.

Haaretz said they are being carried out in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S. and other agencies.

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