Israel-UAE space projects, including lunar mission, will promote education, tackle pressing issues: Israeli minister

Israel-UAE space projects, including lunar mission, will promote education, tackle pressing issues: Israeli minister

By Binsal Abdulkader

DUBAI, 20th October, 2021 (WAM) -- The bilateral deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates for joint space projects, including lunar mission, will support education and help tackle pressing issues such as desertification and climate change, a top Israeli official told Emirates News Agency (WAM).

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between space agencies of both countries will pave the way for collaboration in certain specific projects such as "Beresheet 2," the Israeli moon mission scheduled to launch in 2024, said Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israel’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology.

In an exclusive interview with WAM soon after landing in Dubai on Tuesday afternoon, she said, "I'm more proud that we are not signing only a framework [agreement], but we have used the past few months to identify the people from the two ministries to work on specific projects [such as Beresheet 2]."

The UAE Space Agency announced on Wednesday that it has signed an MoU with the Israel Space Agency to enhance cooperation in scientific research, space exploration and knowledge transfer to accelerate economic growth and human progress.

Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, signed the MoU with Farkash-Hacohen.

Farkash-Hacohen continued to say that Beresheet 2 is basically an educational project with collaboration of space agencies of both countries to launch a spacecraft to moon. The scientific images transmitted by the spacecraft will help students in both countries learn about moon and broader lessons in space science, the minister said.

The Beresheet 2 is Israel's second attempt to reach the moon. The first mission "Beresheet", launched in 2019 to land on the surface of the moon, was almost successful, but just minutes before touching down, it crash-landed onto the moon.

The UAE’s space programmes have already attracted global attention. The Hope Probe, launched in July 2020 was successfully inserted into orbit around Mars on 9th February 2021, marking the Arab world’s entry to the global space race and placing the UAE as the fifth in the world to reach the Red Planet.

The UAE announced early this month a new Emirati interplanetary mission to be launched in 2028, with the primary goal of exploring the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the source of most meteorites that impact earth. The spacecraft will undertake a 3.6 billion-kilometre, five-year journey, which will see it perform gravity assist manoeuvres by orbiting first Venus, then Earth in order to build the velocity required in order to reach the main asteroid belt, located beyond Mars.

The Israeli minister continued to say that the second project for collaboration between Israel and the UAE is "VENUS" satellite launched in 2017, a joint project between Israel and France. "Now we want Emirates to join this project. It will be a very interesting project with the collaboration of three countries."

The data from this satellite will help precision farming, water monitoring, and check desertification, Farkash-Hacohen said. "All these areas are so important for both countries. We are dealing with challenges of agriculture in a desert climate in the midst of global climate crisis. I hope this will benefit all of us," she affirmed.

The third one is also satellite project, another educational project to promote coexistence of Arab and non-Arab students in Israel. "We hope that the Emirates can also collaborate in this project with a message of peace."

Asked which one is the most important project, the minister said, "All these are equally important. They not only bring economic benefits by sharing the knowledge but also social benefits by making an impact on both peoples."

This is Farkash-Hacohen’s first visit to the UAE. "First of all it looks like a beautiful country, very modern and classy. I have high expectation on this visit and I am sure I will not be disappointed."

She will take part in the space week activities in the Expo 2020 Dubai. "Expo2020 is amazing platform to connect with countries and people from around the world," she said.