[FPSPACE] Ofeq origins
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 28 17:36:52 EDT 2005
From: Tomas Svitek <tomas at svitek.com>
Sent: Jun 28, 2005 1:03 PM
>However, the viable commercial system, based around Greensat, was not that
cheap to fully complete. Besides costs for finishing the spacecraft, one
had to include costs for the launch, insurance, ground stations, product
processing and archiving, distribution net, tasking and missions
operations, marketing, etc, in order to have the business 'solution.'
>It was difficult to make a business case for finishing the project,
strictly on a commercial basis, without a government subsidy. The primary
>Resolution by itself is not enough. The commercial business is all about
the volume and thus other system characteristics like image swatch,
spacecraft agility, data storage and downlink capacity are also
crucial. You do not want to be in a position selling each image at $50K
(as Helios reportedly does) -- you cannot close the business case at these
This was the early 1990s, before there even _was_ a commercial remote sensing market. There was SPOT, and it was doing quite well (although I doubt that they had a positive cash flow). But the "market" was nonexistent.
There are currently three American commercial remote sensing firms, and one of them will probably fold soon (Space Imaging). They cannot exist without having a substantial amount of business from the US government. This is the case for non-American remote sensing companies as well--they have to be subsidized in some way by their host governments.
So it is probable that over a decade ago, before such a market started to emerge, that Greensat would have been a commercial failure. My guess is that although the MTCR killed it, and maybe the guys involved found it convenient to blame their cancellation on the MTCR, that there was no way that they would have gotten much further anyway--unless the South African government had decided to fund them. And the SA government probably had many higher priorities than this.
So thanks for the inside info.
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