Israel Pulling the Plug on TAUVEX Ultraviolet Telescope

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After investing 20 years and significant sums of money on the Tel Aviv University Ultraviolet Explorer (TAUVEX) space telescope with still no launch date in sight, Israeli space officials say the time has come to call it quits. The payload, developed by Elop in partnership with Tel Aviv University and integrated onto an Indian GSAT-series satellite, had been scheduled at least four times during 2009 and early 2010 for launch aboard India’s Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Given continued uncertainty in the Indian program following successive failures of the GSLV, the age of the TAUVEX satellite and the wear and tear from two decades of dismantling and reassembly, the payload is to be returned to Israel for a proper retirement. “We need to be responsible, cut our losses and put it in a museum,” an Israeli official said. But he added that a committee will meet to decide the ultimate fate of the payload.

Initially part of an Israeli-Russian cooperative program, TAUVEX was supposed to reach space in 1991 as a piggyback payload on a Proton-launched SRG satellite.