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The incoming CEO of the Israel Space Agency, Menachem Kidron at the space conference in memory of Ilan Ramon: "The budget will allow advancing scientific, technological, security and social interests"

Among other things, Kidron focused on preserving the workers in the space industries in Israel from being abandoned abroad and improving their capabilities in order to bring Israel to exports of billions of dollars a year * Science Minister Daniel Hershkevich praised President Peres' support in upgrading the Space Agency * Space Agency Chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben - Israel: there is a chance to reach sales of 3 billion dollars

The press conference on the occasion of the announcement of Menachem Kidron's inauguration as CEO of the Israel Space Agency. On the right, Kidron, Salah Chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel, Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz and Director General of the Ministry of Science Menachem Greenblum. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
The press conference on the occasion of the announcement of Menachem Kidron's inauguration as CEO of the Israel Space Agency. On the right, Kidron, Salah Chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel, Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz and Director General of the Ministry of Science Menachem Greenblum. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

One day after his appointment as director of the Israel Space Agency was announced, Menachem Kidron gave a lecture yesterday (Monday) on the vision of the Israeli civilian space program. Kidron admitted that he came prepared for an agency facing a budget increase.

"The mission of the space agency is to advance the scientific, technological, social, security and economic interests of the country by utilizing space, as well as to contribute to the well-being of society through services based on space technology, to enable scientific research in which capabilities and building blocks are developed." Kidron said.

"The bottom line is that we must increase the sales volume of space industries and space-supporting industries by billions. If the plan runs and is realized and there is good government backing as it has been in the last month and the budget continues to flow, it will be possible to reach small percentages of the world market, but it will be measured in billions. and strengthen the connection between the use of space and society in Israel." added

On Sunday this week, the Ministry of Science announced that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, and the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, reached an agreement on an investment of NIS 165 million in the field of civil space in the next two years. The budget, which will be transferred to the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology, is intended for investment in the research and development of space technologies in which Israel has a comparative advantage.

Following the decision two years ago by the President of the State and the Prime Minister to appoint a team to formulate a plan aimed at making Israel a significant player in the global space market, and following the discussion between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Budget Division of the Ministry of Finance, it was decided to launch a plan whose main purpose is to support basic and applied research and development and promote cooperation between - National in the field of civil space.

The civilian space program will be implemented in the next two years with a total amount of NIS 165 million and aims to increase the scope of activity of Israeli companies operating in the field of space in the world market. As part of the program, research and development support will be provided for small and medium-sized companies in order to assist in their growth process and in the issues in which Israel has a comparative advantage. In addition to supporting applied research, support will be provided for academic research in the field of space and educational projects. The plan also emphasizes the support for cooperation with other leading countries in the field for the development of satellites, cameras and missiles used for observation for civilian purposes, for communication and space exploration.

"The investment decided upon is only the first step in the Israeli space program promoted by the Ministry of Science and Technology," said the Director General of the Ministry of Science and Technology Menachem Greenblum. "In 2013, a further increase in the budget will be considered according to the projects and plans for cooperation with other countries that we are already starting to work on today."

Kidron referred to the recommendations and said: "The civilian space program was formulated in the last two years by the Ministry of Science and the Space Agency with the assistance of a large team of users, including Prof. Haim Ashad, who managed with considerable effort in the face of budgetary difficulties and attempts to convince them to allocate the resources to run the space program."

"We all know that space is a strategic resource. I have no doubt that the activity in space is a tremendous technological leverage. If we go back many years, before the Americans entered space they did not do it for business purposes or to sell photographs of the moon. The goal (probably apart from the political goal of victory over the Russians, AB) was technological development. The technology used in space includes almost all possible fields: materials, software, communication, electronics, recycling, product life. Things that if you take them all there are things that can be applied to completely homemade products as well.

"At Rafael, we tried to convince customers to purchase micro satellites and we had the opportunity to meet with representatives of semi-developed countries. There was the Slovakian Minister of Economy who came to wonder about our jar, I asked him, you can buy pictures cheaply, why should you develop a satellite and he replied: "We are looking at the development of the economy And we realized that space is a platform that will allow us to develop the industry.

"In Israel, we focused on launch systems and observation and communication satellites thanks to the security situation, and we also developed capabilities in building small satellites. When you look left and right, you see that the world is going strong towards the same goals.. Our advantages are eroding and we are starting to see around the world quite a few small satellites with not bad performance. The security market in Israel is limited and selling military satellites abroad is not easy at all. The big market is the civilian market, the question is how to get to it, the budgets in Israel are very limited. Space agencies abroad handle budgets of hundreds of millions and billions of dollars. In order to raise the system, prevent people from leaving (people who have no challenge look for challenges and in the absence of future plans and R&D plans - look elsewhere) - we must build more attractive and better building blocks. Cheap is not enough, you need good performance, and if it is cheap and better, even better. Competitiveness in the world is very difficult. 5-6 years ago it was easy for us at Rafael to sell space systems, in the last year or two we have not been successful. In every competition you lose, you lose prestige."

"Fortunately, the plan has been approved by the government in the meantime for two years in which it will receive a budget of NIS 160 million. We have five main goals: to bring the national civil space to a state where we can place the country within the 5 countries in all things related to science and technology in space, to have satellites in space for research purposes and uses, to improve knowledge infrastructure in places where Israel has a comparative advantage."

"The budget will be distributed homogeneously between the industries, academia, projects, technology development and more. A very strong weight will be given to technologies of miniaturization, strengthening communication capacity and international collaborations with an emphasis on leading countries (See separate news). The intention is to leverage the budget through collaborations whether from abroad or receiving additional funding from the public so that we will have an adequate budget that will increase the chance of doing it on time."
"First of all, SLA needs to organize itself. It is impossible to raise a NIS 160 million project in two years with the head of an agency and a secretary. We all come from one industry or another and are business tested. In order to make a business case, you need to strengthen the project. There are ways to organize and we will do it with the support of the ministry."

"A year ago, an agreement was signed between the Israeli Space Agency and the European Space Agency. As far as I know, representatives from Europe are supposed to arrive here in the coming months. We want to put on the table issues that they and we have a common interest in. The agency ordered a survey that Frost & Sullivan won the tender to carry out, and it began interviewing the decision makers in the various space industries. Their intention is to understand what the capabilities of the State of Israel are in the fields of space so that this will be another parameter in the decision on which subjects to run together. I call on the industries to present as many things as possible that are worth investing in. Our intention is to try to join ESA, it is not easy. The only non-European country that joined was Canada and the agency thinks they made a mistake."

"Another area that I will promote: collaborations between the industries and themselves. I made it my goal to do what is possible to bring about cooperation between the industries in Israel. I know the aviation industry and a little less Elbit and of course Rafael well. They are all Jews, they all speak Hebrew and they all have the same mentality. If we put aside all the nonsense we can increase cooperation. I will do everything in my power to bring it about."

Another priority for the incoming CEO is joining other international ventures, such as space projects in the European R&D program. "The connection with academia is also important because that is where we build the building blocks for years to come. At Rafael we are working with the Technion on 2-3 capacities for electric propulsion at low powers with high efficiency. Development of cathodes that are difficult to obtain and more. I'm sure there are many more topics that could be done. The connection with the academy is essential and we intend to invest in it and encourage the connection.

The criterion for the success of the initiative to develop the space industry in Israel is orders, sales and looking to the future, the future is also in the youth and the question is how to ignite the imagination through interesting and good programs that also have chances of implementation in fast and advanced stages.
"In conclusion," says Kidron. "The positioning in space exists, the potential exists. The plan is not simple, it is challenging. In a few years, to make a revolution of the kind I mentioned here is not easy, but it is achievable and requires support and a budget over time, and I believe that the ministry and the government will continue to support it. The program requires determination and perseverance in fulfilling tasks, management and brave and effective cooperation between all the factors of industry and academia. All of these, I believe, will make it possible to realize the vision and become a reality."

Minister Hershkovitz: "We started with military applications, but the future lies in the civilian program"
At the press conference held at the Air Force Base on Sunday, Minister of Science Daniel Hershkowitz said: "The State of Israel is a power in space not only relative to its size, but a point by itself. There are only about ten countries in the world that have all the capabilities in the field of space - both in the development and production of satellites, including the shell, the base, and the equipment inside the satellite. Satellites are not a simple product because they operate in an unfriendly environment - temperature changes, strong cosmic radiation, the issue of developing and manufacturing satellites, launching satellites, the physics of which we study in high school, a different application of physics that we are not used to, and of course the field of communication with satellites."

"A lot of superpowers don't have all the abilities. There are areas where we are in the lead in the world, such as lightweight satellites of a size that weigh 10 times less than similar European satellites and 5 times less than similar American satellites, through satellites equipped with multispectral and hyperspectral cameras, radar-based SAR satellites. In all these fields we are at the forefront of knowledge and very advanced technologies. The State of Israel is also a country that, relative to its size, has a relatively large number of satellites - about 10 active satellites.

"Everything that happens in space that started as military applications from spy satellites, in the entire world has turned or changed direction very sharply to civilian applications when today the civilian volume exceeds the military volume. We are all consumers of space, whether it's in GPS, whether it's in communication or other fields, so the volume has increased a lot. The space sector generates several hundreds of billions of dollars per year. When I assumed my position three years ago and was given responsibility for the space agency, the tremendous potential was immediately apparent and what was also immediately apparent was that the State of Israel reached this status with very little government investment. With proper and very reasonable government investments in relation to the possible return, the State of Israel can leverage and take advantage of its special position to reach new heights."

"About two years ago, we concerned the president of the country, who is a man of vision and sees the future directions in which our world is going, for the purpose of this issue, and in a joint meeting at the president's house with the participation of the prime minister and all the leaders in Israel in the field of space, it was decided to establish a committee or team led by Menachem Greenblum, CEO of the Ministry Science and Technology and Major General Yitzhak Ben Israel who is the Chairman of the Space Agency and has many other titles and abilities. And this team prepared a detailed plan that was submitted to the president and the prime minister that shows how it is possible with appropriate investment to bring the Israeli Space Agency - that is, the entire civil space industry in Israel to new heights."

"Although the plan is impressive, as is the case with government programs from here to the implementation of the long distance, but thanks to the tireless efforts of all concerned, and first and foremost Greenblum's efforts to manage non-stop negotiations and pressures and discussions with the Treasury and the various parties, we recently reached a signed agreement with the Ministry of Finance In the Prime Minister's full support for the allocation of approximately 180 million shekels for the next two years to get the program off the ground. This amount is smaller than the amounts appearing in the original proposal, but it was given on the assumption that things should be done gradually. Leveraging and positioning Israel's position, the possibility of opening up and becoming a power that will also stand out in other areas in the space that we are less in today or other areas that we want to develop."

The plan is a dramatic change and an indication of the state's recognition of its institutions, of the government's importance of the plan. And truly we can also say that the relations we have in the field of space with other countries also reflect on relations in political fields, I will mention the visits of the people here, at least some of the senior visitors to the conference were under heavy pressure from anti-Israeli elements in their countries to try to prevent their visit here with the understanding and insight that these things reflect the relationship of the State of Israel and only with the intervention of the leaders of the countries did the people come here."

The Chairman of the Space Agency, Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel: "Our intention is to promote the civilian uses of space - that is, science and economics on all possible levels, not only the development of satellites but also scientific research, therefore some of the investments will be in universities." We will also promote international collaborations, such as the collaboration we have with the French in the Venus satellite, which is almost finished. We want to expand international collaborations and invest in Israel at all levels, starting from the academy, through small companies and ending in the space industry.

"The program has two emphases:" says Prof. Ben-Israel: "Preservation and deepening of the advantage we have today in lightweight satellites." We want to drop from 300 to 150 to 100 kilos, this is a huge advantage because then it will be possible to launch the satellite from an airplane. The second emphasis is on the communication satellites. Communication satellites are heavy, geostationary satellites. This is a field that occupies an increasing volume in the global economy and out of the 250 billion dollars of the global satellite market, about 150 million are rolled into communication satellites. If you count the services around that, you reach 200 billion dollars and since we are one of the few countries that can build such satellites, we want to build a comparative advantage, which we had and slipped from our hands, and lean on the developed electronics industry in Israel and make the space industry in Israel, which was established to fulfill security needs, reach to be a central component of the economy. If we manage to be something like 2% of this market, that's already 5 billion dollars in sales, which from a macroeconomic point of view is a significant number."

"We are at the beginning of the journey, we also need to build the agency itself, build the mechanisms, and if indeed the plan proves that the hopes we have placed in it are fulfilled, I assume that the budget that will be available to us will grow. In the original plan, it was made with all the industries, Menachem Kidron was on the team that sat on the formulation of the plan. If we succeed, the budgets will increase and we hope to reach sales of non-defense space products in the amount of billions of dollars per year within five years. As soon as we cross this line, the industry will stand on its feet and we won't have to invest in it from below." Prof. Ben-Israel concluded.

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