Growing plants on the moon, testing drugs in space, and advancing peace in space. Get to know Israel’s upcoming space missions.
05.01.2023 | Yishai Gelb
In 2019, IsraelIL fired into space a mission destined to reach the moon. Reaching the moon and planting an Israeli flag would have brought immense pride to the small Middle Eastern state providing another testimony to Israel's greatness. Unfortunately, the mission didn't make it to the very end crashing on the surface of the moon before the final landing. So close, yet so far, but not to worry! IsraelIL conducted a thorough investigation into the failure, and has begun its work on a second mission to reach the moon! So what to expect this time around?
IsraelIL is a non-profit organization that has been operating since 2011 to promote education and scientific-technological research in Israel, through the implementation of groundbreaking missions in deep space. Sending missions to space is an expensive venture requiring large funds, which the Israeli government isn't quick to give. Israel's entire space and research budget in 2019 was $175 million, very little compared to the cost that space research requires. Therefore, the best way to raise such funds is to partner with organizations that have an interest in space research and to include their scientific missions for economical purposes to raise funds.
One of the experiments that the second launching - Genesis 2 - will conduct is an experiment growing plants on the moon. An experiment in collaboration with Lunaria One, in which plants will grow on the moon. The project is an important step towards proving the ability to grow plants in lunar conditions for food, medicine, and oxygen production for astronauts who will land on the moon in the future. Such a mission could be in the interest of Nasa’s Artemis program which strives to have a functioning space base on the moon by 2027. Having the ability to grow food on the surface of the moon could help make that happen.
The second mission is to test the effectiveness of drugs in deep space missions. Led by Professor Sarah Eyal from the Hebrew University, the experiment was designed to test the stability of drugs in space over time, in orbit around the moon. The experiment will be performed on a number of different drugs, some life-saving and some "convenient" drugs that contribute to a better standard of living in space.
In addition to a few other research missions that Genesis 2 will conduct, the mission could be another step towards sustainable peace between Israel and the gulf states. If Genesis 2 lands on the moon, it might not be just the Israeli flag waving.
For the leadership of a country, national pride and international recognition of accomplishments are important for maintaining power. Such was the case with Qatar and the world cup and could be so as well with the United Arab Emirates.
To have the small nation's flag waving on the moon would boost the county's status greatly. Thanks to the Abraham accords, the UAE has Israel's drive and innovation at its dispense, and with the immense wealth the kingdom has accumulated, IsraelIL can get easy and vast funding. Such a partnership seems perfect - Israel will fly the mission, the UAE will help to fund it, and both get the national flag on the moon.
Not long ago, a delegation of SpaceIL representatives was hosted in Dubai.
The delegation held several meetings with senior officials in the government as well as with officials in the business sector in the Emirates in order to discuss the principles and foundations of cooperation. The cooperation will make the Genesis 2 mission the first scientific-technological project that will create a common history for both nations: the flags of Israel and the Emirates on the moon!
All in all, Israel hasn't given up on the dream to reach the moon. The signing of the new peace deals is beginning to bear fruits. At the dawn of a new age of space exploration and colonization, missions such as Genasis 2 can lay the foundations for the accelerated presence of humankind in space, for better and for worse. We are very far off from Avatar-type scenarios. We're taking baby steps into space, hopefully for good causes and for generations to relish.