In an interview with the Hidaan site during the Ilan Ramon conference held last week, the director of the Italian Space Agency, Prof. Roberto Battiston, said that the Italians see importance in drug research in space, as a first step towards the production of commercial quantities in the reusable Space Rider spacecraft of the European Space Agency. Prof. Battiston also reported on progress in the development of the Shalom satellite
The Italian Space Agency and the Israeli Space Agency signed during the 13th space conference in memory of Ilan Ramon cooperation in the construction, launch and conduct of experiments on the second Space Pharma satellite.
In an interview with the Hidan website, the Director of the Italian Space Agency, Prof. Roberto Battiston, said: "We have announced a new project in collaboration with the Israeli-Swiss company Space Pharma for the use of nano-satellites containing a miniature laboratory for conducting experiments in microgravity of biochemical reactions. This is an important development that will allow research into new molecules of interest to the field of medicine.
As I recall, Spice Pharma already launched one satellite at the beginning of 2017 and it is used by the company's customers to conduct experiments on crystals of molecules with medical properties, which can be done more easily in an environment with low gravity.
"The joint satellite will be used by four teams of Italian and Israeli researchers to carry out biochemical experiments in space. Next month we will issue a call to select the winning teams. This will be an opportunity for the Italian community to join the field of medical research in space and create progress in the field of biochemistry in microgravity, with potential for applications. We did this because on the Italian side we are convinced that this is a small revolution taking place now, thanks to technology developed in Israel. From the Israeli point of view, they want to reach as large a market as possible with this technology. This is an opportunity for them to enter the European market that Italy represents.
In the future, we see Space Pharma as the initial stage of manufacturing in space - performing the experiments and producing small quantities of biochemical substances. Towards the possibility of producing large quantities in space - kilograms and not grams, we will be able to do this in the future in our joint project with the European Space Agency - Space Rider. This is a small shuttle that will go up into space, stay there for several months and land back on Earth. The first flight is expected in 2021-22. Italy is the main researcher of the satellite. The collaboration with Space Pharma could help us develop production capabilities of specific molecules that will be of commercial interest and develop the space economy.
CEO of Spice Pharma: The process of contacting the Italian government was fast
The CEO of Spice Pharma Yossi Yamin says in response to Prof. Battiston's words: "The process with the Italian government was relatively quick for such orders of magnitude of agreements when in a very short period of time we also held a workshop in Rome with the participation of dozens of Italian scientists and another customer meeting in Israel, the team's work found ten Pairs of scientists from both countries who will offer research. Cooperation is good for both nations."
Referring to the development of commercial production capabilities, Yamin says: "We are currently in the research phase. I estimate that in two years it will be possible to produce masses based on these technologies in Space Rider. It's a wonderful tool—a 4-meter-long mini-shuttle, built in collaboration between Italy and Lockheed Martin—that can take off and land several times. First in the Atlantic Ocean, but in the future - she will be able to land at any airport in the world. The results of the first satellite are not only promising but also sustainable. Space Pharma has completed a complete production cycle of forming crystals in space and the products are impressive."
Progress in the development of the Shalom satellite
In the interview, Prof. Battiston also referred to the Shalom satellite: "We have had cooperation with Israel since 2009-2010 when the exchange of ideas began on the Shalom satellite, a multi-spectral mission that will later be jointly developed by the two countries. Today we are in phase B of the process when we examine the requirements of this satellite. After that we will proceed to phase C of the planning and eventually we will also build it (according to the original plan, the launch is for 2021 AB). Today we discussed the progress to the next steps, considering the fact that for Italy this is a very important satellite. We are currently building a pipeline of Levinai remote sensing for scientific needs, as well as in climate change monitoring. For us peace is a step forward in this direction. Israel also sees the importance of the Shalom satellite. Today we confirmed the desire to move forward and the fact that we are making good progress in phase two. "