NASA signed a collaboration agreement with the Israel Space Agency on Wednesday that will see the two agencies working together on the Beresheet 2 lunar mission that began preliminary work in December 2020.
The agreement builds on the collaboration between the two agencies in 2019 during which NASA and the Israel Space Agency worked together on the first SpaceIL Beresheet mission to the moon.
That mission concluded in April 2019 with the spacecraft crash-landing on the lunar surface after a technical glitch caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction, which destroyed the spacecraft’s ability to stop its velocity.
Immediately following the crash, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted Israel to try again, and to reach the moon within two to three years.
Among the Jewish symbols aboard the spacecraft at the time was a volume of CHITAS (Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya).
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
But now the mission is back on track. Beresheet 2 – this time with two landers intended to go to the lunar surface — is expected to launch in 2025.
NASA will provide SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency with advanced communications systems – important for tracking the spacecraft – and other technology.
“We need NASA equipment to better understand the situation and to transmit data,” SpaceIL CEO Shimon Sarid says.
In exchange, Israel will provide experimental technologies on board the two landers and on the orbiter that will provide various measurements and data to be shared with NASA.
The statement of intent was signed Wednesday by NASA Associate Administrator Robert D. Cabana and Israel Space Agency Director-General Uri Orion. NASA will provide full support for the Beresheet 2 mission under the agreement.
“The collaboration with NASA and our new agreement, which I welcome, is a further testimony to the excellent relations between Israel and the USA and to the intensifying cooperation on science and technology issues,” Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said at the signing ceremony.
“I look forward to the scientific discoveries that will come from the Beresheet-2 mission. Our partnership on this lunar mission and Israel’s commitment to the Artemis Accords are enabling us to explore the Moon together,” added Cabana.
Also this week, Israel hosted its 18th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, named after Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who died in the disastrous Columbia space shuttle accident on February 1, 2003. The spacecraft disintegrated as it reentered the atmosphere over Texas, killing all seven astronauts aboard, including Ramon.
Participants in the convention included the heads and senior members of several space agencies, including NASA as well as those from Germany, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, as well as scientists and officials representing France, Uzbekistan and the UAE.