Israel to invest NIS 600 million to develop technology in space

Israel plans to spend 600 million shekels over the next five years to support the civilian space industry and support new companies that develop advanced technologies for the space sector, according to a detailed program presented this week of the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and technology.

The plan was presented as part of what the ministry called a “dramatic shift” in the galaxy industry over the past few years, as the company moved from the exclusive domain of governments to civilian investors and contractors. This development recently resulted in the world’s first private mission to the International Space Station, featuring three private astronauts, including an Israeli, who fully funded their voyage at a cost of approximately $ 50 million each. .

Israel’s Beresheet lunar landing mission in 2019, and the second mission scheduled for 2024, are also seen as part of the nascent civilian space industry.

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Israel supports a number of promising space technology start-ups, including Helios, which develops technology capable of producing oxygen for fuel from lunar earth, and Ramon.Space, a company that makes supercomputing systems for the space sector.

The Israel Space Agency plan hopes to ‘enhance the strength and independence of the State of Israel by positioning it as one of the world’s leaders in the space industry’, using space technology for economic growth as part of Israel’s technology industry, and to “improve Israel’s international status”.

Among the goals the agency has presented is doubling the number of Israeli galaxy companies from the current 60 to at least 120, increasing four times the number of people working in the galaxy industry from 2,500 to 10,000. , increasing the number of space science researchers in universities and strengthening. Israel’s presence in international organizations in space.

Illustration of lunar extractor technology developed by Helios, which the startup hopes will produce oxygen to the moon (Credit: Courtesy)

The plan includes the creation of a national space-based center that will allow the integration and use of space technologies “within the activities of government and other entities”, according to the announcement, and the facilitation access in space for Israeli businessmen to try. their technology by annually launching an Israeli satellite into a region of the galaxy called low Earth orbit (an orbit relatively close to Earth with altitudes ranging from 200-300km to 1600km).

The initiative also plans to expand the Tevel program, where middle and high school students participate in space -related projects, such as building satellites, and support the SHALOM satellite initiative (Spaceborne Hyperspectral Applicative Land and Ocean Mission). , in collaboration. including Italy, whose commission is scheduled for 2021.

Orit Farkash-Hacohen in Tel Aviv, April 27, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“The civilian space industry is experiencing a global revolution,” Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said in a statement that Israel period consulted. “There is tremendous economic and business potential for the Israeli economy and for Israel’s high-tech industry. »

Hilla Haddad-Chmelnik, director general of the ministry, said in Israel period that “the global space industry is experiencing a major revolution. This industry has doubled in size over the past decade and is expected to grow to approximately $ 1 trillion in the coming years.

Israel has “serious advantages in this area, especially in the defense sector. Therefore, we must act to advance the civilian space sector and connect it with the currently emerging Israeli high-tech sector. The strategic plan led by the Israeli Space Agency will help meet this challenge.The space sector is evolving and touching every aspect of our lives – this strategic plan is part of an important process to lift this industry. ״

Haddad-Chmelnik said the space is “moving from the hands of governments to the hands of the private market, and that represents a huge opportunity” for Israel.

Adventures in the Space of Israel

Over the past five years, Israelis have been involved in several well -known space -related projects.

In 2021, Tel Aviv University staff and students launched the nano-satellite they built into Earth orbit, a unique little satellite intended for information gathering and testing.

In 2017, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) launched a nano-satellite (called BGUSAT) into space to conduct scientific missions for researchers, the result of a five-year project developed by BGU, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

NSLComm, an Israel-based aerospace tech start-up that has developed a space-stretching nano-satellite to boost connectivity capabilities, launched its first satellite, NSLSat-1, in 2019, as part of a payload Soyuz rocket.

TAU-SAT1, the nano-satellite developed by Tel Aviv University. (Credit: Tel Aviv University)

Also in 2019, the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, developed by the SpaceIL organization and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), crashed on the surface of the Moon and shattered the country’s dreams of placing an Israeli lander on the Earth’s satellite.

The budget for the first spacecraft is $ 100 million, a fraction of the cost of vehicles launched last month by major powers of the United States, Russia and China. It was a collaboration between SpaceIL and IAI, but almost all was funded by private donations from prominent Jewish philanthropists, including Morris Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Lynn Schusterman, and others.

One of the last photos taken by Beresheet before it crashed into the moon on April 11, 2019. (Credit: Courtesy of SpaceIL)

The mission called Beresheet 2, scheduled for 2024, aims to break several records in the history of the world’s galaxy, including a double landing on the moon in a mission of two of the smallest landing craft launched in galaxy, weighing every 120 kilograms, half of it is fuel.

The landers will launch a spacecraft into orbit, then disembark to carry out the second part of their mission. One of the landers will try to land on the far side of the Moon, which only China has done so far, and a second spacecraft is expected to land at a site on the Moon that has yet to be determined.

Last month, Israeli private astronaut Eytan Stibbe and three other astronauts disembarked off the coast of Florida after spending two weeks aboard the ISS on a historic mission for the commercial sector, marking the official end of the first fully private mission to the orbital outpost.

The mission is also seen as a turning point in US space agency NASA’s goal to commercialize Earth’s low orbit.

Stibbe and his three colleagues – American real estate magnate Larry Connor, Canadian financier Mark Pathy and veteran Spanish -American astronaut Michael Lopez -Alegria – flew on April 8. Paid by Axiom Space SpaceX for transportation services and NASA for the use of the ISS, while the three tycoons were charged $ 55 million each for the privilege.

This photo provided by SpaceX shows the SpaceX crew seated on the Dragon ship on Friday, April 8, 2022, at Cape Canaveral, Florida. On the right is Israeli Eytan Stibbe. (Credit: SpaceX via AP)

They were originally scheduled to spend only eight days on the galaxy station, but bad weather imposed repeated delays. In total, the crew spent 17 days in orbit, including 15 on the ISS.

SpaceX, owned by billionaire businessman Elon Musk, now regularly flies NASA astronauts to and from the space station.

Earlier this year, the Israeli government signed a NASA-led space program aimed at landing astronauts on the lunar surface and establishing a long-term human presence on the moon as a run-in for the future. and mission. towards Mars.

Shoshanna Solomon and staff of The Times of Israel contributed to this article.

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