Canada, Israel to study joint space missions

Industry Minister James Moore

The Canadian and Israeli space agencies are embarking on a new co-operative venture to fund concept studies for potential joint space missions.

James Moore, Canada’s minister of industry, announced May 26 that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) have agreed “to develop advanced applications in satellite communications and position both the Canadian and Israeli space sector to play a significant role in this growing global market.”

The space agencies will fund local high-tech firms to investigate the feasibility of future joint missions. 

MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates and COM DEV International have been tagged to conduct the research on the Canadian side. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Elop Ltd. have been chosen on the Israeli side.

The first concept study, involving MacDonald Dettwiler and IAI, will study the feasibility of an advanced payload for a possible future mission to enhance data transmission capacity from space to earth via telecommunications satellites.

The second involves COM DEV and Elbit. They will examine a potential joint “advanced radio  and thermal location µ (micro) satellite (ICARUS) mission.”

ICARUS would be aimed at locating maritime vessels, improving maritime safety, awareness and security.

Each Canadian participant will receive $300,000 in federal money for the studies.

The initiative is part of Canada’s Space Policy Framework to promote innovation in cutting edge technologies, Moore’s office said in a statement.

“Canada and Israel have a long-standing partnership in space cooperation. The government of Canada is proud to continue this collaboration as we work to develop innovative technologies to meet national interests and ensure the competitiveness of our space sector,” Moore said in a statement.

The joint venture comes under the auspices of a memorandum of understanding  signed by the countries’ space agencies in 2005 and amended in 2014. The MOU allows the agencies and the private sector to co-operate in joint projects or research.

The ISA boasts co-operative ventures with a number of international space agencies, including NASA and those from the European Union, Italy, Japan, France and India.

“Co-operation with foreign agencies has many advantages, especially for a small country like Israel, [including] reciprocal relations between the local and international space industries, sharing the burden of development costs, the option of using state-of-the-art systems for research missions, and the excellent opportunity to become exposed to new research methods and international standards of research and development,” the ISA said in a statement.

“In addition, international co-operation creates many business opportunities and improves Israel’s foreign relations with countries around the world,” it said.