Israel and India have signed major space cooperation agreements during an official visit July 4-6, 2017, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel.
The two countries already have a cooperative agreement on space launches, with several Israeli satellites launched on Indian space launch vehicles in recent years.
The agreements – three in all – cover specific areas of engineering cooperation and technology transfers in electrical propulsion for small satellites, developing optical links between satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), and the development of atomic clocks used in positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellites.
Regarding the latter, it was recently revealed that India’s Regrional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), known as NAVIC, has experienced problems with the atomic clocks aboard its satellites. The precise timing provided by atomic clocks is essential for providing accurate PNT data to users.
“The main agreement is a kind of an umbrella agreement that allows us to do any operation which we like. However, it is not a specific one. These are state-of-the-art technologies on which we are going to cooperate with the India Space Research Organisation,” said Avi Blasberger, the Director-General of the Israel Space Agency.
The agreements cement burgeoning strategic ties between Israel and India, and raise the profile of Israeli satellite and space technologies. That said, PM Modi’s Israeli visit also raises questions about Indian relations with the Palestinians and also its longstanding ties with Iran, creating an even more complex web of relations in the region for New Delhi.
Avi Blasberger told journalists prior to PM Modi’s arrival in Israel that, “We are going to sign some implementation agreements. Actually we have an agreement between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Israel Space Agency (ISA), a cooperation agreement, and these agreements that we are going to sign during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are implementation agreements which will be added to the main agreement.”
Regarding Israel’s use of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) space launch vehicles, Blasberger said, “Indian launchers are first of all available and then they are very reliable. The past experience shows that all the launches from India were successful which means that they are reliable launchers…We can use the launching capacity of India to launch Israeli satellites and we can do joint programmes.”