Israel and the UAE signed a historic deal Wednesday to collaborate on space missions including the Israeli rocket ship Beresheet 2 which is bound for the moon, according to a report by the Jerusalem Post.
The United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) also signed a deal with the Israel Space Agency to enhance cooperation in scientific research, space exploration, and knowledge transfer.
The deal was signed on Wednesday in Dubai by Emirati Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chairwoman of UAESA Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, and Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen.
As part of the agreement, the two nations will work together on data-based development and research from the Israeli-French satellite Venus, which tracks environmental preservation parameters such as vegetation, contamination levels in bodies of water, and coastal monitoring. The satellite, equipped with special twelve-spectral-bands cameras, can capture more than 100 sites every two days.
At the same time, students from the UAE will work with Israeli students on a new satellite tracking the moon. The project will see university students from both Israel and the UAE use data from the Beresheet 2 mission to help determine the precise time of the new moon. Both the Jewish and Muslim calendars are governed by the lunar calendars, with the dates of major holidays being determined by the moon’s cycle.
Bereishit 2 is the next phase of Israel’s lunar mission, which started in 2019 when Bereishit 1, sponsored by Israeli civilian company Space IL, attempted a landing on the moon. The spacecraft nearly succeeded in landing on the moon but minutes before touchdown the controllers lost contact with the craft and it crashed onto the moon. The project is still considered a success since Bereishit nearly landed on the moon while using only a fraction of the costs ($100 million) of a regular spacecraft.
At the time the company immediately announced the next phase of the project- Beresheet 2- and could now utilize the partnership with the UAE on its space exploration project.
“It would be wonderful if we could develop a space program that would be a combination of Israel and the Arab world,” SpaceIL’s chairman Morris Kahn told the Global Investment Forum in Dubai on Wednesday.
“I would welcome it – if it fits in with the program the Emirates have. They have an ambitious program,” Kahn, a respected philanthropist, said at the conference jointly organized by The Jerusalem Post and the Khaleej Times – adding that such a joint initiative would be the “pinnacle of my achievement and my involvement in space.”
The two countries have the most advanced space programs in the region. Abu Dhabi’s New Hope robotic probe orbited over Mars in February, while Beresheet 1 reached the moon two years previously.
The ambitious Beresheet 2 mission would aim to break several records in global space history, including a double landing on the Moon in a single mission by two of the smallest landing craft ever launched into space, each weighing 120 kilograms (265 pounds), half of which is fuel. The landers will launch on an orbiting spacecraft and then detach to take on the second part of their missions. One of the landers will attempt to touch down on the far side of the Moon, which only China has accomplished to date, and the second spacecraft is scheduled to land at a different site on the moon.
The orbiting spacecraft, meanwhile, will remain in space for up to five years and serve as a platform for educational science activities in Israel and worldwide via a remote connection that will enable students in multiple countries to take part in deep-space scientific research, according to a report by Space IL.