‘Space Diplomacy’ Builds Bridges on Earth
Jerusalem, 1 February, 2024 (TPS) -- As far as Professor Teodoro Valente is concerned, there’s no question that collaboration in space exploration builds bridges on Earth.
“Actually, we are dealing with this term that is often called “space diplomacy.” Valente, the president of the Italian Space Agency told the Tazpit Press Service.
“The scientific activities which are running on the International Space Station, that’s an environment in which no boundaries exist. We have astronauts coming from all different countries, and countries on different sides of technological levels. Or, due to their geopolitical situation, they do not collaborate. So space can be a bridge using space diplomacy or scientific activities which are outlined in space frameworks.”
Valente was in Israel for the 19th annual Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya on Wednesday. The event attracts prominent international figures in the space field.
“Space exploration is very important for people’s imagination,” he told TPS. “We’re talking about the possibility to understand, for example, what is outside the Earth, what is the origin of the universe. We’re talking about the possibility of coming back to the moon, we’re talking about the possibility of exploring Mars. All these things are important for people’s imagination.”
Valente told TPS that the Italian Space Agency may join Israel’s Beresheet 2 mission to the moon.
“We started just today to discuss possible cooperation. We decided to set up a joint working group for the next Beresheet 2. We will set up a joint working group to better understand how it will be possible and in which framework. So the relationship is very good,” he said.
The original Beresheet mission was Israel’s first attempt at a lunar landing. It was launched in February 2019 and carried out by the private Israeli company SpaceIL in collaboration with the state-owned Israel Space Agency (ISA). A technical glitch in one of Beresheet’s components triggered the chain of events that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to malfunction, sending it crashing into the lunar surface.
The collaboration between Italy and Israel in space activities has a rich history, dating back to 2005 when the relationship between the Italian Space Agency and the Israeli Space Agency was launched.
One collaboration known as CubeSat involved launching several mini-satellites into space where miniature laboratories can conduct chemical and biological experiments in weightlessness. The goal is to develop drugs that cannot be created in Earth’s gravity. The ninth satellite was launched in August and the experiments are being overseen by Israeli and Italian researchers.
Then there’s the “Juice Mission,” formally called the JUpiter ICy rings Explorer Mission. The Juice spacecraft, launched in April 2023, will explore three of Jupiter’s icy moons, Ganymede, Europa or Callisto and become the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than Earth’s. Juice is expected to reach Jupiter in July 2031. The orbiter includes Italian equipment, Israeli hardware, and a plaque honoring Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer who discovered Jupiter’s moons. Juice is led by the European Space Agency, but institutions and companies from 23 different countries are involved.
Cooperation, Valente explained, helps advance knowledge, creates shared goals as well as jobs. That’s significant because space exploration is too expensive for any single country to undertake on its own.
“Each company is doing its own business, but together, also with the connection of universities and public research centers are very important for the bilateral relations between Italy and Israel,” Valente said.