Israel is now a leading player in space tech.
“A private Israeli space venture recently propelled our nation into the club of four countries that have landed on the moon,” said Director General of the Israel Space Agency, Uri Oran, at a U.S.-Israel Space Tech event. The event took place at the Virginia Tech Briefing Center in Arlington, Va. on October 25.
A second $100-million privately funded and managed mission called Beresheet 2 (Beresheet is the Hebrew name for the first book in the Bible, Genesis) is slated to launch in 2024. “As we trend towards a $1-trillion space market,” added Oran, ”one of the Israel Space Agency’s priorities is to develop a national infrastructure to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to build private space ventures.”
Attended by representatives of space-related start-ups and established technology firms, as well as government and other stakeholders, the event followed by just three weeks the first meeting of the U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology held in the White House and led by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Israeli National Security Advisor Dr. Eyal Hulata. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid launched the dialogue to establish a partnership on critical and emerging technologies.
NASA’s Dr. Eliad Peretz, lead researcher for New Space Missions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, noted NASA’s openness to private sector participation when he briefed the group on access points for companies to receive NASA funding to support its core research tasks, including Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.
Starburst Aerospace, an innovation catalyst and the only aerospace accelerator in Israel, is exploring establishing a startup accelerator program in Virginia to facilitate co-development between industry leaders to solve the aerospace industry most pressing technological challenges, according to Noemie Alliel, managing director of Starburst Israel, who presented at the event. “The program will support pre-seed and seed-stage startups and focus on accelerating the product-market fit with key design partners from Starburst’s global ecosystem that will provide beta site and funding,” said Alliel.
The Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), a state agency developing economic, cultural, and educational connections between Israel and Virginia, hosted Space Tech along with the Arlington County Economic Development Agency and TYPE5, a space tech investment group. Dov Hoch, Virginia Israel Advisory Board’s executive director, says he is working with Aimee Rogstad Guidera, Virginia Secretary of Education, to develop a STEM education program involving Virginia students with the Israel lunar lander Beresheet 2. “We envision a learning program that will lead to launching a student digital payload to the moon, then a yearlong engagement with the lunar orbiter involving Virginia students communicating with and monitoring activities in space,” Hoch says.
“We were thrilled to partner with VIAB to host the US-Israel Space Tech Event in Arlington,” said Marian Marquez, acting deputy director of Arlington Economic Development. “Earlier this year, I met with Israeli tech companies in Tel Aviv that are driving space innovation with important commercial and defense applications, and we have many great companies here in Northern Virginia doing the same. Space Tech brought them together.”
The Arlington gathering built on momentum in space tech collaboration between Virginia and Israeli companies that started in 2021 when Wakefield, Va. based Mil-SAT partnered with Israel’s Over-SAT in a joint venture to create Cassiopeia Space Systems Inc. (CSS). CSS presented their RIGEL Satcom Terminal at Space Tech.
The venture’s initial $1-million funding came from the U.S.-Israel Bi-National R&D fund (BIRD) whose deputy executive director, Limor Nakar-Vincent, encouraged attendees to explore R&D partnerships with Israeli companies who can receive up to $1.5-million in non-dilutive funding.
“To me, Space Tech was the ‘first step’ in space-related partnerships between Virginia and Israeli companies,” says VIAB’s Hoch. “It was a marvelous follow-up to an event in 2021 when then-Governor Northam invited an Israeli Ministry of Defense unmanned systems delegation to Virginia. Also, last month, UVision, an unmanned Israeli defense contractor, opened a facility in Stafford.”