A first of its kind agreement on cooperation in space research and exploration was signed between the State of Israel and the European Space Agency (ESA).

(Communicated by the Ministry of Science and Technology

The Government of the State of Israel signed today (Sunday), 30 January 2011, an agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) regarding space cooperation for peaceful purposes. Israel Space Agency Director-General Dr. Zvi Kaplan signed the agreement on behalf of the Israeli Government. European Space Agency Director-General Jean Jacque Dordain signed the agreement on behalf of the European Space Agency. The signing ceremony was held with Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Herskowitz in attendance, and as part of the Sixth International Ilan Ramon Conference.

This is the first agreement of its kind between Israel and the ESA, which within its framework, achieves and promotes projects of mutual interest in the fields of research and the peaceful use of outer space. The agreement facilitates the exchange of scientists, engineers and information, the holding of joint conferences and symposiums, and the promotion of communications and exchanges between research institutions and industries in related areas.

Science and Technology Minister Prof. Hershkowitz noted that, "The agreement constitutes an international recognition of Israel’s status as a space power." ISA Dir.-Gen. Dr. Kaplan said, "This is an additional step in joint research and development as a whole, and space research in particular, which is strengthening and intensifying with European countries. It shall permit the expansion of scientific and economic cooperation with this continent of significant countries."

Among the agreed-upon areas for cooperation, the following disciplines are specifically noted:

  1. Space Science: Especially astronomy, astrophysics, space engineering, and solar system exploration.
  2.  Space Technologies:  Especially space engineering, inclusive of micro and nano-satellites.
  3. Earth Observation Applications: Especially monitoring of environmental contamination, meteorology and geodesy, and natural disaster management.
  4. Telecommunications and development of services based on satellite navigation.
  5. Microgravity research:  Especially material engineering, space biology, medicine usage.
  6. Ground segment engineering and utilization

By signing this agreement, Israel has joined the list of countries, with which the ESA is cooperating. This agreement is an addition to agreements that Israel has signed in the past few years with the French and Italian space agencies, and which constitute an additional important step in the strategic partnership between Israel and Europe.