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Israel awards 11 innovative space startups

The Israel Space Agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), approved special grants worth $5.94 million to 11 space tech startups developing innovative technologies. About $51.3 million have been funded 62 projects since 2012. The approved companies will receive between 20% and 50% of their […]

Helios plans to use its technology to mine oxygen from the Moon (illustration). Photo Haya Gold for Helios
Helios plans to use its technology to mine oxygen from the Moon (illustration). Photo Haya Gold for Helios

The Israel Space Agency, in collaboration with the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), approved special grants worth $5.94 million to 11 space tech startups developing innovative technologies. About $51.3 million have been funded 62 projects since 2012.

The approved companies will receive between 20% and 50% of their R&D costs reimbursed. Smaller startups and those whose products are purely for space applications will earn between 60% and 85%.

These figures represent the complexity of the technology and the considerable risks inherent in creating space capabilities. Uri Oron, the Israel Space Agency’s newly appointed Director General (res. ), added: “The global space sector is seeing unprecedented expansion. This program facilitates the entry of new Israeli firms into this industry by leveraging our technology capabilities. It is a fantastic engine of economic progress.”

When the companies’ product reaches the commercial stage, they will eventually reimburse IIA for the money through royalty payments from sales.

“The global space sector is undergoing a profound transformation. Over the last decade, the market has doubled in size and is predicted to reach a trillion dollars in the future years. Israel clearly has an advantage in the space business, but particularly in the security realm. This program will strengthen and promote 11 enterprises involved in satellite communications, rocket propulsion, and sensors that will aid in the fight against climate change, lunar mining, and agriculture,” stated Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology.

The companies were chosen for their level of technological innovation, the competence of their research and development teams, evidence of a consolidated business strategy, and the competitive advantages their product offers over worldwide competitors.

The following companies have been selected as winners:

Eicha Communication Systems, which conducts research on sophisticated Internet of Things (IoT) communications systems that utilize a satellite to facilitate the transmission of massive volumes of IoT alerts via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. This technology will enable autonomous vehicles to communicate continuously, allowing them to drive to remote regions even when cellular coverage is unavailable.

Paxis, whose SpaceSiC project is developing new ceramic materials for the fabrication of complex three-dimensional silicon carbide bodies and structures for satellite and space applications. Ceramic materials, particularly silicon carbide, provide the perfect qualities for operations in severe settings such as space. Paxis’ products combine excellent thermal conductivity with low heat dissipation to provide thermal stability to materials. It intends to create complicated three-dimensional models with thin walls that are suited for satellite components such as mirror-base components.

Terra Space Lab is developing a multi-spectral infrared antenna for a space shuttle scanner. The unique pod may be attached to the back of nanosatellites without requiring payload modifications, enables multispectral scanning of the area in the infrared realm, and performs real-time data processing in orbit at a significant cost savings.

N.S.L. Communications develops solutions for worldwide ground coverage through the use of nanosatellite constellations and its pop-up antennas, which are made of proprietary materials that work optimally in gravity and zero-gravity, lowering the cost of payload launch. Its reflect array antenna technique takes advantage of multi-beam situations to provide broadband and can route traffic between satellites and ground stations without the requirement of channelizer gateways.

GorillaLink is developing a product that combines satellite communications capabilities with IoT solutions for end customers, leveraging multiple satellite networks to provide global satellite communications coverage for IoT issues, with an emphasis on areas without cellular coverage or as a backup.

GreenOnyx grows fresh superfood for people on far space trips on spaceships. Over time, one of the primary restrictions NASA has encountered is determining the best methods for preserving astronauts’ nutrition and health during long-duration space trips. A one-way manned mission to Mars could take up to nine months, but GreenOnyx has developed a method for growing healthy super-vegetables onboard while also giving oxygen to spacecraft and absorbing CO2 exhaled by astronauts’ breath to feed plants. Additionally, the vegetables can be either raw or cooked.

HELIOS has developed technology for mining oxygen from the moon by processing regolith, or lunar soil, and separating it into oxygen and metal. This technology can be used to power lunar launches and lunar vehicles, sustain astronauts, and build lunar bases or settlements on other planets without the need to launch heavy materials to the Moon. Helios plans to launch three modest cargo missions to the moon by 2024 to showcase the technology on the surface.

Semiconductor Devices (SCD) develops a broadband detector for hyperspectral space cameras that can capture images from the visible to the extended SWIR spectrum. This may be used to film the Earth from orbit, covering a big area of territory with a high resolution and a great number of pixels, and capable of distinguishing between materials via distant passive sensing. The detector can be used to distinguish natural flora and camouflage, different minerals on land, their quantity in the atmosphere (as aerosols and water vapor), oil spills and pollution at sea, plant diseases and forest fires, and to determine the humidity and salinity of agricultural land plots.

Space Plasmatics develops electric ignition systems for microsatellites based on plasma or electrically charged gas. These systems utilize dimensional Hall Thruster technology and a small power supply. Its microHET engine utilizes a thin metal channel to ionize gas and generate plasma with a power consumption of only 20 watts while producing a 1 millinewton impulse. It can be used to aid tiny satellite missions in modifying or maintaining their trajectory, de-orbiting, or avoiding collisions.

NewRocket specializes in the development of space ignition technologies for the launch of large satellites. Chemical rocket engines used in space today rely on hydrazine, an extremely hazardous and expensive material. NewRocket has developed a non-toxic, “green” alternative bi-propellant rocket engine gel that may be used for launches, satellite ignition systems, spacecraft, and landers, while also cutting launch and fuel costs.

Ramon Space The company was established in order to respond to Israel’s strategic need to build microchips for satellites, since there are many limitations on the import of microchips for satellite usage, mainly from the United States. It creates supercomputer chips that power deep space missions and handle signals and data received via satellites in hostile space environments. Its microchips are capable of processing and improving images and were used in the Israeli-French Venus Earth observation satellite, which provided farmers with agricultural information regarding irrigation and climate change monitoring. Ramon Space’s microchips have been used to power over 50 multinational space missions, including the Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission to 162173 Ryugu, a far-flung asteroid approximately nine million miles from Earth.

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