This JV was funded with $1 million by the Israel US Bi-national R&D fund — BIRD Foundation
“A private Israeli space venture recently propelled our nation into the club of four countries that have landed on the moon,” said Uri Oran, Director General of the Israel Space Agency at an US Israel Space Tech event, which took place at the Virginia Tech Briefing Center in Arlington in October. A second $100-million privately funded and managed mission, called Beresheet 2 (Beresheet is the Hebrew name for the first book in the Bible, Genesis), is slated to launch in 2024.
“As we trend toward a $1-trillion space market,” added Oran, ”one of the Israel Space Agency’s priorities is to develop a national infrastructure to be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to build private space ventures.”
Attended by representatives of space related start-ups and established technology firms, as well as government and other stakeholders, the event followed by just three weeks the first meeting of the U.S.-Israel Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology held in the White House.
NASA’s Dr. Eliad Peretz, Lead Researcher for New Space Missions at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, noted NASA’s openness to private sector participation when he briefed the group on access points for companies to receive NASA funding to support its core research tasks, including Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.
Starburst Aerospace, an innovation catalyst and the only aerospace accelerator in Israel, is exploring establishing a startup accelerator program in Virginia to facilitate co-development between industry leaders to solve the aerospace industry’s most pressing technological challenges, according to Noemie Alliel, Managing Director of Starburst Israel who presented at the event.
“The program will support pre-seed and seed-stage startups and focus on accelerating the product-market fit with key design partners from Starburst’s global ecosystem that will provide beta site and funding,” said Alliel.
The Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), a state agency developing economic, cultural and educational connections between Israel and Virginia, hosted Space Tech along with the Arlington County Economic Development Agency and TYPE5, a space tech investment group. Virginia Israel Advisory Board’s Executive Director Dov Hoch said he is working with Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera to develop a STEM education program involving Virginia students with the Israel lunar lander Beresheet 2.
“We envision a learning program that will lead to launching a student digital payload to the moon, then a yearlong engagement with the lunar orbiter involving Virginia students communicating with and monitoring activities in space,” said Hoch.
“We were thrilled to partner with VIAB to host the US-Israel Space Tech Event in Arlington,” said Marian Marquez, Acting Deputy Director of Arlington Economic Development. “Earlier this year, I met with Israeli tech companies in Tel Aviv that are driving space innovation with important commercial and defense applications, and we have many great companies here in Northern Virginia doing the same. Space Tech brought them together.”
The Arlington gathering built on momentum in space tech collaboration between Virginia and Israeli companies that started in 2021 when Wakefield, Virginia, based Mil-SAT partnered with Israel’s Over-SAT in a joint venture to create Cassiopeia Space Systems Inc. (CSS). CSS presented their RIGEL Satcom Terminal at Space Tech. “I am very proud and excited to be working with Over-Sat on this game-changing technology for the new LEO networks,” said Don Richardson, CSS Director.
The venture’s initial $1-million funding came from the US-Israel Bi-National R&D fund (BIRD) whose Deputy Executive Director, Limor Nakar-Vincent, presented at Space Tech, encouraging attendees to explore R&D partnerships with Israeli companies who can receive up to $1.5-million in non-dilutive funding.
Other presenters included Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest defense company whose US headquarters is in Herndon, Virginia; Kevin Pomfret, partner at Williams Mullen Law Firm and member of the Space Law Committee of the International Bar Association; and Professor Vassilios Kovanis, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Founding Faculty Member and Bradley Department ECE Director of the ECE Meng, who presented the relevance of Virginia Tech’s work in quantum computing as an enabling technology for space related concerns and provided a briefing on the Innovation Campus.
“To me, Space Tech was the ‘first step’ in space-related partnerships between Virginia and Israeli companies,” said VIAB’s Hoch. “It was a marvelous follow-up to an event in 2021 when then Governor Northam invited an Israeli Ministry of Defense unmanned systems delegation to Virginia. Earlier this month, UVision, an unmanned Israeli defense contractor, opened a facility in Stafford.”
For more information, contact: Dov Hoch, Virginia Israel Advisory Board
Article by Keith Cowing