NASA and Israel Sign Space Cooperation Agreement

NASA administrator seals important agreement greatly deepening cooperation, amid Astronautical Congress being held in Jerusalem.

Yoni Kempinski ,

NASA's Charles Bolden with Menachem Kidron
NASA's Charles Bolden with Menachem Kidron
Yair Zrika

NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) signed an important new civil space agreement on Tuesday, significantly increasing the cooperation between the two bodies.

Menachem Kidron, director general of the ISA which is a division of the Science Ministry, signed the agreement with NSA Administrator Charles Bolden.

"This is an important day between the United States and Israel," said Bolden, who noted the agreement will have Israel help with NASA's mission to Mars.

He added that the agreement was signed during the International Astronautical Congress, which is being hosted by the ISA in Jerusalem. Bolden pointed out that participants were joining in the conference "in spite of everything else," in a reference to the terror wave sweeping the capital.

“Our two countries have had a long history of cooperation in space exploration, scientific discovery and research, and we look forward to the opportunities this new agreement provides us to build upon this partnership,” added Bolden.

NASA and ISA's last cooperative agreement was signed in 1996, and expired in 2005. The two organizations emphasized that now is the right time to renew the commitment to cooperation.

The agreement is more far-reaching that the past iteration, and has the two groups cooperate regarding joint missions, personnel and scientific data exchanges, ground-based research facilities, space exploration and operations missions, joint workshops and meetings, scientific instruments onboard aircraft and spacecraft, and many other applications.

“The implications of this agreement for Israel’s space and scientific communities are tremendous,” said Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud). “The agreement provides us a platform for mutual cooperation between the Israeli and American space agencies and thus allows the science communities in both our counties important access to projects that offer the promise of significant development and growth in the years ahead.”

ISA director Kidron said, "through the close collaboration of our two agencies we are blessed to have reached this agreement and we both intend to implement it by working together on research and technology projects of mutual interest and concern.”

NASA has made several large announcements in recent months, including the existence of liquid water on Mars, the discovery of exoplanet 452B which appears to be similar to Earth, and the successful arrival at Pluto of the New Horizons spacecraft.