A group of Israeli teens have designed a satellite bound for space. Forty students at Herzliya High School, with the help of the Israel Space Agency, built the low-cost micro-satellite as part of an international project aimed at providing a lifeline to travelers in remote areas.

Set to be launched by Russia in April, along with other pico satellites built by students from around the world, the cube-shaped device measures only 10 centimeters across and will be used to help guide travelers in remote locations not served by cellular service.

The Israeli Space Agency pointed out that while cellular service may appear to be everywhere on land, 70 percent of the world is covered by oceans, providing a vast expanse of space that does not have cellular reception and few ways for a distressed traveller to seek out help.

The student-built pico satellite, named Duchifat (a type of bird) is capable of orbiting the planet every 90 minutes and covering the globe in a few hours, something that large satellite communication systems are not capable of achieving.

Forming a network with other tiny satellites, the Duchifat is designed to pick up calls for help by travelers at sea and other remote locations and then beam them to a call center to help stranded travelers get the help they need.

Yaakov Perry, the Minister of Science, Technology and Space, stressed that training Israeli students in satellite technology with projects like this one is an important way to keep Israel safe.

“In the digital and satellites era, science and cyberspace are critical issues for Israel’s security,” he said in April, when the government announced a renewed focus on space and technology efforts and space education.

He added that international projects, like the pico satellite program, help to globally position “Israel’s achievements and know-how in science and technology.”

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Erica Terry is Managing Editor at Jspace News. She has reported on domestic and international news, Israeli politics, features and more for Jewish publications in New York, Miami and London.
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