Speaking at the 13th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Tel Aviv this week, the Director-General of the European Space Agency (ESA), Jan Wörner, said that discussion are underway for Israel to cooperate with the pan-European space agency under a “special arrangement.”
In an interview with The Times of Israel, Wörner said that the arrangement might be similar to that of Canada’s relationship with ESA, which enjoys a cooperative agreement that allows it to participate in and contribute towards certain satellite and space missions undertaken by the agency.
Only European states can become full members of ESA, and the agency currently has 22 full members. European countries such as Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Lithuania also have cooperative agreements with ESA, and Slovenia is an associate member.
Wörner met with the head of the Israel Space Agency, Avi Blasberger, on January 28, 2018, in Tel Aviv, and said that the discussions have been productive and positive.
“The ball is on the side of the Israelis. The next step is coming from their side and then we’ll see. Maybe we can succeed within this year,” Wörner told The Times of Israel.
“They need to decide how they want to be linked to ESA. Do they just want to have a memorandum of understanding as we have with India, Japan or would they like to go further and do some institutional link?” Wörner said.
Wörner praised Israeli space technology and achievements in Earth observation, small satellite technologies, and space science, saying, “so why not put them together with our capability of launchers, and navigation systems and so on.”
ESA is, “looking forward to establish this very special link as soon as possible,” said Wörner.