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Israel wants to be satellite superpower

JERUSALEM, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Plans are under way to turn Israel into a satellite superpower and increase sales of locally made space platforms to nearly $8 billion a year, a report says.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to approve plans to boost Israel's space status, a report in The Jerusalem Post said Friday.

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Currently talks are under way with several countries and defense companies about possible space collaboration, the newspaper said.

The plan calls for the government to boost its support for space research and development, and invest millions of dollars annually, focusing on mini-satellites as Israel's primary market, the report said.

A team of Israeli scientists and economists drafted the plan.

Professor Haim Eshed, head of the Defense Ministry's space division told the paper Israel is one of the few countries that can independently develop, manufacture and launch satellites. The assets are there but are not being marketed, he said.

Israel's expertise is in mini-satellites such as the recently launched Ofek 9 satellite. He estimates Israel has the capability to net 5 percent of the international space market estimated at $250 billion a year, the report said.

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