A first of its kind agreement on cooperation in Space Research and Exploration was signed between the Government of the State of Israel and the European Space Agency – ESA. The signing ceremony was held as part of the Sixth International Ilan Ramon Conference. Ilan Ramon was Israel's first astronaut and he was killed in the Columbia Shuttle explosion. His widow Rona attended the ceremony.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver attended the ceremony and related to the question of whether an Israel astronaut is something we should expect to see in the near future. Garver was also asked about U.S. Navy Captain Astronaut Mark E. Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Israel National News TV was at the ceremony and brings you the following report:
“This is an additional step in joint research and development as a whole, and space research in particular, which is strengthening and intensifying with European countries. It shall permit the expansion of scientific and economic cooperation with this continent of significant countries,” said Dr. Tzvi Kaplan, Director-General of the Israel Space Agency.
“The agreement constitutes an international recognition of Israel's status as a space power,” said Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who attended the signing.
The document noted that Israel and Europe will work together in certain fields in particular, among them space engineering and space exploration. Also included were space technologies, including nano-satellites, Earth Observation -- including monitoring environmental contamination and natural disasters -- and microgravity research.
In practical terms, the agreement will facilitate the exchange of scientists, engineers, and information between the two space agencies. It will also lead to joint conferences and increased communication.
The latest agreement follows similar agreements between Israel and the French and Italian space agencies.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is composed of 18 countries in Europe that conduct joint collaboration in research and development of space science programs, with an annual budget of approximately 4 billion Euros. The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s forefront and prime executer of major space projects to shape and develop Europe’s space capabilities and ensure that investment in space continues, to promote and deliver benefits to the European people and the world. The joint collaboration between ESA and the EU is manifested in two joint projects, the “Galileo” project and the “GMES Project – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security” which has been established to accurate and timely information services to better manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.