Captain (res.) Denis Krokhmalov Veksler z”l was due to begin his studies this year at the Technion, pursuing his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer. But, on January 8, just weeks before the start of the school year, Captain Krokhmalov Veksler tragically fell in battle in the Gaza Strip.

His ultimate sacrifice is being memorialized through a collaboration between the Technion and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop a communications satellite.

Captain (res.) Denis Krokhmalov Veksler z”l

The project has been dubbed NOVA-SAT – a combination that honors the events of October 7 at the Supernova Music Festival and the central scientific mission of the satellite. NOVA-SAT will perform measurements using the Gamma-ray Burst Localizing Instrument (GALI) detector developed in the Technion Faculty of Physics. It is designed to detect bursts of gamma radiation, a product of the explosion of stars at the end of their lives, supernovae, and mergers of neutron star pairs.

The GALI detector allows for precise identification of such events, which are difficult to locate, and can distinguish the directions of the burst – a feature characteristic of only giant satellites rather than small systems. The detections it provides will enable astronomers worldwide to point telescopes at the event, study the burst, and link it to other events such as gravitational waves.

The satellite is the final assignment of a group of students from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, led by Dr. Hillel Rubinstein from IAI and Dr. Oded Golan, Technion academic supervisor of student projects. The model that NOVA-SAT will carry was built by Ph.D. student Julia Saleh-Natur. The project embodies the vital connection between industry, education, and national memory.

A respected athlete who immigrated to Israel at the age 17, Captain Krokhmalov Veksler served in the elite Yahalom (Diamond) engineering unit of the IDF Combat Engineering Corps – and despite being injured during triathlon training after his military service, he insisted on continuing to serve in the reserves while preparing to pursue his studies.

Photo credits: Technion spokesperson’s office