NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) of the Ministry of Science signed a new civil space cooperation agreement during the International Astronautical Congress now taking place in Jerusalem.

“The implications of this agreement for Israel’s space and scientific communities are tremendous,” said Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis.  “The agreement provides us a platform for mutual cooperation between the Israeli and American space agencies and thus allows the science communities in both our counties important access to projects that offer the promise of significant development and growth in the years ahead.”

A highlight at the IAC event was hearing from astronauts. Among them, former American astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, entertained a crowd of space enthusiasts at the IAC conference when talking about his personal adventure and the future role of spacewalking in human exploration. He told a press conference in Jerusalem that the only reason Neil Armstrong made the historic first step on the moon in July 1969 was “because he was standing closer to the door.”

Meanwhile, the last agreement signed between NASA and the ISA was in 1996 and remained in effect until 2005. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Menachem Kidron, Director General of the Israel Space Agency, agreed that now is the right time to renew their commitment to their mutual cooperation.

A new space suit at the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem.
A new space suit at the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem.

The new agreement, which is more far-reaching and in-depth than its predecessor, will enable NASA and ISA to cooperate in the exploration and research of space for the betterment of mankind and for peaceful use.

Among the potential areas of cooperation are: 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.

Raising a l'chaim to the new NASA-Israel Space Agency cooperation agreement at the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem. Photo by Yair Zrika
Raising a l’chaim to the new NASA-Israel Space Agency cooperation agreement at the International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem. Photo by Yair Zrika

“Our two countries have had a long history of cooperation in space exploration, scientific discovery and research, and we look forward to the opportunities this new agreement provides us to build upon this partnership,” said Bolden.

“Through the close collaboration of our two agencies we are blessed to have reached this agreement and we both intend to implement it by working together on research and technology projects of mutual interest and concern,” said Kidron.