German satellite manufacturer OHB System AG and Israeli government-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) announced on Tuesday a joint moon research program for the European Space Agency (ESA), Globes reported.
Under the terms of the agreement, OHB will provide services for reaching the moon, using a lunar lander to be developed and manufactured by IAI. Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company, founded in 1953, currently develops and manufactures surveillance and communications satellites, as well as aerial defense, anti-missile, drone disruption, and marine systems.
The spaceship, which will be launched from Cape Canaveral in a few weeks, is based on the spaceship built for Israeli non-profit venture SpaceIL, aiming to land the first Israeli-made unmanned spacecraft on the moon.
Although OHB and IAI did not reveal the financial aspects of the deal, sources familiar with the project estimate the agreement could be worth tens of millions of dollars.
IAI space division manager Opher Doron, who signed the cooperation agreement with the German company, said: “There’s still a long road ahead, and there are many risks, but this is very important step in the right direction, and we’re all excited. The business potential of this activity is very good, largely owing to the activity done in the development of Space IL’s Bereshit spaceship.”
The first such mission using the IAI-built lander could be ready in as little as two years, Doron observed.
The European mission involves sending landers to the moon to test technologies for producing fuel, oxygen, and water, among other raw materials from lunar soil, according to OHB CEO Marco Fuchs. They also hope to collect and analyze samples of the moon’s terrain.
Commenting on the partnership with IAI, Fuchs noted that landing on the moon still poses a technological challenge, and OHB is, therefore, investing major resources in developing technologies in the matter through the new partnership with IAI.
“This is an honor for the Israeli space industry,” IAI president and CEO Brig. Gen. (res.) Nimrod Sheffer said. “The technological know-how acquired in the development of the Bereshit spaceship and the new cooperative effort are enabling us to be partners in advanced research into outer space.”
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