Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli scientists taking part in a project simulates life in Mars, outside Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, February 18, 2018.

Israel is now an official part of NASA’s Artemis Accords. An agreement was signed Wednesday between the Israeli Space Agency and NASA for the program which intends to once again send people to the Moon as well as Mars. It was signed as part of the Israeli Space Week events.

The agreement sets out principles for cooperation in space exploration and the civilian use of the moon, Mars, comets and asteroids for peaceful purposes.

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The Artemis agreements are led by NASA. In addition to the US, Its current members include 13 countries: Australia, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea and Canada.

Israel is the 15th country in the agreements. The signing is expected to enable Israel to integrate into the ambitious Artemis program in a variety of research and science collaborations alongside strengthening commercial and economic collaborations in the field of space between the space industries of all the member nations.

Israeli official state that joining the agreement marks a politically important step for Israel. The signing process was led by the Ministries of Innovation, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Israeli government approved the decision to join the Artemis agreements about a week ago.

The agreements were signed by NASA Head William (Bill) Nelson and Director of the Israel Space Agency Brigadier General (Res.) Uri Oron. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology and the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash-Hacohen congratulated the head of the Space Agency on signing the Artemis Agreement and Israel’s joining what she called, “the most ambitious, complex and expensive space program in the world.”

She added that Israel’s joining Artemis signifies, “another building block in our relationship with the United States, our great friend in the world. The essence of the Artemis program: to do something bold, and inspiring.”

On the prospect of once again landing people on the Moon, Minister Farkash-Hacohen said, “Israel can and should play a key role in this dream. Israel can contribute in any area related to space – including the use of Israeli space suits on the first flight as early as next March. This is further proof that technology and innovation have an important diplomatic role. The Israeli mind has a name that crosses borders and continents, even the sky is not the limit.”

General Oron said that he as proud to sign the Artemis Agreements, as authorized by the Israeli government.

“Our joining opens up a wide range of diverse options – technological, business and political – and once again proves Israel’s position in the fields of innovation and technology,” he said. “Already in the coming months, in the launch of the Artemis 1 mission, Israel is taking part through a special suit against radiation, the fruit of the development of the Israeli company Stamard with the assistance of the space agency. Today, space once again demonstrates the enormous potential inherent in it for Israel in particular and for the entire world in the fields of innovation, technology and international diplomacy. I am convinced that through the Artemis Plan, all of humanity will advance, not only in space but also here on Earth.”

General Oron added that the Israeli Space Agency will work to ensure as many as possible collaborations in research, science, innovation and economics, within the framework of the Artemis agreements, between Israeli bodies and its international colleagues.

The main purpose of the Artemis program, which is the most complex and expensive of NASA’s programs, is to land humans on the moon as early as 2025 and later to establish a permanent manned research station.

The spacecraft that will carry the astronauts from Earth to the moon will most likely be the Orion spacecraft, which NASA is developing both for flights to the space station and for deep-space missions, chiefly flights to the moon and in the future possibly manned flights to Mars.

Israel was already taking part in “Artemis 1,” which is expected to be launched in March 2022. Trials of the Israeli Space Agency’s Asteroid shield suit, which began in January last year, were performed at the International Space Station. The suit is expected to play a key role in the Artemis program, as astronauts operating in deep space will need protection from dangerous solar radiation.

In the unmanned Artemis 1 mission, which is planned for the moon, this will be the first time that the effectiveness of the technology against radiation in deep space will be tested. This flight will be unmanned but will carry two dolls in the shape of a woman: one “Zohar” who will wear the protective suit, and the other, “Helga”, who will not wear it. After the return of the two dolls laden with radiation sensors, it will be possible to compare them and test the effectiveness of the vest.

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