Space, the final frontier, remains a hot ticket. It seems this is especially true in Israel, where just last week SpaceIL, an Israeli engineering non-profit, announced it had secured a launch contract to send its dishwasher-sized robot to the moon. If successful, it would be the not only the first Israeli mission to the moon, but the world’s first privately funded lunar mission. But competition may be heating up.
On Tuesday in Jerusalem, at the the 66th International Astronautical Conference, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) announced it had signed a “wide-ranging cooperation agreement” with NASA, a partnership “in the exploration and research of space for the betterment of mankind and for peaceful use.” Signing their names were ISA director Menachem Kidron and Charles Bolden, NASA’s Administrator, who both said kind things about the other, and themselves, as these announcements tend to go, including their past relationship, which began in part, in 1985. Reported JTA:
NASA and Israel signed their first cooperation agreement in 1996, which led to the training in the United States of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, who flew on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Ramon and the flight’s six other astronauts died on Feb. 1, 2003, when Columbia broke apart during reentry into the atmosphere over Texas on its way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The specifics of their partnership, such as a trip to Mars, perhaps to determine whether the chocolate from delicious candy originate there, or to search for five-dimensional alien lifeforms, remains obscure. Some of the objectives NASA and the Israel Space Agency may collaborate on include “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, sounding rocket and scientific balloon flights, space communications, educational outreach, and other spacecraft and space research platforms.”
And that’s cool.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.