Israeli space agency plans to launch its first-ever micro-orbital vehicle on Sunday from an orbital station in the Mediterranean Sea.
The $1.9 billion spacecraft, named “Zion” and named for the constellation of four constellations in the sky, will be launched atop a Soyuz rocket.
Zion, which will be named after the constellation Orion, will carry five astronauts and one cosmonaut aboard a Cygnus spacecraft that will dock with the spacecraft at the International Space Station.
The Cygnuses are expected to dock on Sunday at 10:10 p.m.
EDT (2210 GMT), when they will be at about 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) above the Earth.
The mission is part of a $10 billion plan by Israel’s Space Technology Authority to develop advanced technologies and improve its own space program, which is plagued by technical problems.
The launch will be the first of the year for the Israel Space Agency, which has been plagued by delays due to the government shutdown, according to an agency statement.
Zions orbiter will fly over Israel’s northern desert in the southern part of the country, near the Gaza Strip, and will carry a number of experiments, including a probe to study the evolution of the ozone layer.
The Cygnes are expected come within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Israel.
A number of other missions are planned in the near future.