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Reach for the Sky: Israeli students developing nanosatellite to orbit moon

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The Haifa Technion and the IAI’s Space Division will develop and launch the nanosatellite, which ‘will enter a low-altitude orbit around the moon and collect data using a payload of scientific instruments.’

By ILANIT CHERNICK

In an exciting venture, a group of students from Haifa’s Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology will work together with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop a nanosatellite to orbit the moon.

The project will get underway at the beginning of October 2021 and is expected to take several years to complete.

According to the Technion, its Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and IAI’s Space Division will develop and launch the nanosatellite, which “will enter a low-altitude orbit around the moon and collect data using a payload of scientific instruments.”

Prof. Gil Yudilevitch, who initiated and is leading the venture for the faculty, explained that “the project will allow students to become partners in a project with the industry and help them reach the end of their studies prepared to be integrated into Israel’s developing space industry.”

Over time, the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering has been increasing the study of space in its curriculum, which has now led to this collaboration.

Prof. Tal Shima, the faculty’s dean said that in the past only about 10% of the faculty syllabus was dedicated to space, but “over the past few years there has been an effort to change this and reach a more equal balance between the two fields.”

“Cooperation with IAI’s space facility will allow us to expose students to additional joint projects with IAI focused on outer space,” said Shima. “This is a fascinating field where activity in Israel and the world is stepping up and I hope to see as many students as possible focusing on it.”

IAI’s Space Division will assist the project in several ways, including, providing space engineers to help define, characterize, and closely mentor the students’ mission. On the IAI side, the project will be headed by the faculty alumnus Niko Adamsky, who today serves as a space engineer in IAI’s Space Division.

According to the IAI, the students “will also be provided with tours of IAI’s space laboratories and facilities where satellites undergo experiments in an environment simulating outer space.” The students, it said, will be playing a key role in the launch of the nano-satellite.

For Technion president Prof. Uri Sivan, building a connection between industry and academia is extremely important.

“Connecting with a significant and large entity such as IAI is an important step,” he said, pointing out that “the interface between academia and industry is changing fast and the Technion is investing great efforts in being established in Israel and internationally.” 

During the signing of the agreement between the Technion and the IAI earlier this week, Shlomi Sudri, VP and GM of IAI’s Space Division said that this project “will open a whole new world for them, a world that includes innovative system design.” 

“They will be able to gain experience in engineering a unique system in the field of space exploration,” he highlighted. “The dimension of space necessitates engineering and system capabilities with specialized knowledge.”

Sudri stressed that this is also an opportunity for the students to integrate into the field of space in Israel while also exposing them “to the wide industry working on outer space, as well as getting a taste of the engineering and infrastructure capabilities that exist in IAI.”

Concluding, IAI President and CEO Boaz Levy said that increasing our cooperation with the Technion produces added value to both sides and will help us strengthen and integrate, to create groundbreaking, challenging, and leading technology in Israel and abroad. 

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