Eight tiny satellites built by Israeli students were launched into orbit on Thursday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Eight teams from junior high schools across the country spent three years working on the effort, known as the “Tevel” program, in collaboration with the Israel Space Agency and the Science and Technology Ministry.
The satellites will carry out various tasks and experiments and control of them will be possible through communication stations in several locations in Israel. Overall, the Falcon rocket launched with 105 satellites from a variety of different countries on board.
The students involved and officials from the Israel Space Agency gathered in Herzliya on Thursday to watch the live launch via video from Florida.
“I was fascinated by this incredible program,” said Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen in a video address to the event. “To see groups of students from all across Israel — from Nazareth to Givat Shmuel, Jews and Arabs, from the south and the center — shows how much science and technology connects people.”
Students and audience members cheered with glee as the rocket successfully took off for space around 5:30 p.m. local time, which was 10:30 a.m. in Florida. The satellites were expected to begin being deployed about one hour after the launch.
“The project connects the best that is in science, the best in space and the best in you,” Uri Oron, director general of the Israel Space Agency, said at the event.
Oron said as space exploration accelerates, Israel is not just watching, but taking part, including with this program of “talented high school students led by the most professional staff of supervisors, proving this point.”
According to the Israel Space Agency, the students involved in building the satellites will continue to work on the project, receiving and monitoring the data transmitted by them once they are in orbit.
The students who took part in the project hailed from eight distinct localities across Israel: Sha’ar Hanegev, Ofakim, Yeruham, Taibe, Nazareth, Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Shmuel and Kiryat Ata.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.