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by Jean-Jacques Serra

Origin: Jericho ballistic missiles

The developpement of the first Israeli ballistic missile named Jericho started in the early sixties. This rocket would have been designed with the help of the French company Dassault-Breguet which was studying the MD-600 ballistic missiles at that time. After the French export embargo of armement to Israel in 1967 the developpement would have been continued by Israel Defense Industries with internal technology. Jericho 1 went operational in 1973. It was apparently a single stage solid missile range approx. 500 km.

Its follow up Jericho 2 was 2-stage. It would have been designed in in seventies and first launched in 1986. The Jericho 3 was 12 m long and 1.2 m diameter. It would have been capable of launching 1 ton at 1500 km distance.

Shavit launchers (Comet)

We still only have few details on Shavit. It is a 3-stage solid launcher whose 2 first stages are inherited from Jericho 2. The third stage was built by Raphael. The two first stages have a composit structure. They are identical and weigh approx. 13 tons. The third stage is spherical, with a titanium structure. It weighs 2 tons and its 60 kN motor burns during 92.5 seconds. The equipement case with its rotation table is located under the third stage and is jettisoned before its ignition.

The Shavit launches take place from the Palmahim air force base, south of Tel Aviv. The launches have a 143 degrees inclination to avoid launching above neighboring countries. This conditions restricts satellisation capabilities: Offek 1 and Offek 2 launched in Sep 1988 and Apr 1990 weighed ~160 kg while Offek 3 launched in Apr 1995 weighed 225 kg.

Israel had proposed, with no success, a commercial version of the Shavit named Next. Nowadays another derivative with a fourth stage for a more precise orbit injection is proposed for export.

Shavit launches

# Launch id Payload Launch date Type Status (orbit in perigee x apogee x inc. x period)
1 88087 Offek 1 19 Sep 1988    
2 90027 Offek 2 3 Apr 1990    
3 FTO ? ?   unofficial launch failure
4 95018 Offek 3 5 Apr 1995 at 11:16 UT    
5 FTO Offek 4
The payload might have been the first Eros satellite
22 Jan 1998 at 13:00 UT 3-stage Failure: second stage?
6 02025 Offek 5 28 May 2002 at 15:25 UT    
7 FTO Offek 6 6 Sep 2004 at 10:53 UT   Failure: third stage didn't ignite or second stage did not separate from third one
8 07025 Offek 7 10 Jun 2007 at 23:40 UT    
9 10031 Offek 9 22 Jun 2010    
10 14019 Offek 10 9 Apr 2014 at 19:15 UT    
11 16056 Offek 11 13 Sep 2016    
12 20044 Offek 16 6 Jul 2020 at 01:00 UT    
13 23044 Offek 13 28 Mar 2023 at 23:10 UTC    
All launches from Palamchim Air Force Base

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