By Dr. Adi Ninio Greenberg, space and satellite expert
*The information and opinions expressed by guest writers are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Start-Up Nation Central.
Since the Israeli space program kicked off nearly 40 years ago, the Israel Space Agency has been at the forefront of the nation’s space and satellite activities, promoting international collaborations, as well as research and academic projects. But Israel is now also home to a host of promising new startups in various fields of SpaceTech.
First, a bit of history. Israel’s Ofeq 1 satellite launched in 1988, and was the first in an impressive space program that included various imagery, communications, reconnaissance and research satellites. Israel is now considered a regional space superpower, with independent capacity for the development, construction and launch of satellites.
A regional space superpower
Over the past two decades, Israel – as well as other countries around the world – has seen SpaceTech gradually becoming privatized, following the development of multiple launchers and the construction of small satellites. This has enabled many companies to enter the space sector that was previously the domain of space agencies and governments.
Last year, nonprofit organization SpaceIL, together with the Israeli Aerospace Industries and the Israel Space Agency, launched Beresheet, the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon.
Israel is a world leader in high-school space engineering, thanks to a variety of educational programs led by the nation’s Space Agency. The Ramon Foundation also operates educational programs in honor of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon (and his late wife and son).
$400 billion industry
Most recently, and ahead of the Israeli Space Week, Start-Up Nation Central hosted a group of 90 Israeli women from the space industry in order to support and help women succeed in this sector. WiSpace (Women in Space) Association aims to encourage professional women and increase their representation in SpaceTech.
Today, the global space market is estimated at a whopping $400 billion. With more than 50 SpaceTech companies, Israel is gradually becoming a significant player in this arena. From ground equipment and space systems to launchers and operators, here are some of the Israeli SpaceTech startups* shooting for the stars:
Harmful radiation is one of the biggest challenges of space travel; Israeli startup StemRad supplies high-tech protective gear that reduces risk for astronauts, but also protects first responders, military personnel and medical teams operating under dangerous conditions – on earth. Since its founding in 2011, StemRad has raised $6.25 million for its protective gear.
Traditional rocket propellant is hazardous and expensive, so NewRocket founders Moti Elyashiv and Zohar Schlagman invented a new kind of rocket propellant, powered by an environmentally friendly gel that combines the advantages of liquids and solids to cut the cost of rocket launches. Associated with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, NewRocket was founded in 2014 and has so far raised $700,000 from investors.
Using technology originally designed to look for water on other planets, Utilis uses satellites to detect leaks in urban water supply systems, decreasing water waste and helping municipalities and utility companies. Utilis was founded by Lauren Guy in 2013, and has since detected thousands of leaks.
PlanetWatchers is a SaaS solution designed to help enterprises, governments and NGOs monitor their natural assets across multiple sectors. The startup uses geospatial technology, machine-learning algorithms and multi-source satellite sensors to help organizations better manage their natural assets. Founded in 2016, the startup has so far raised $1.75 million.
NSLComm has developed an ultra-high bandwidth satellite communication system. Its antenna technologies transform the efficiency of communication services, bringing supercharged bandwidth at a lower price per bit. Founded in 2009 by Dr. Raz Itzhaki-Tamir, Danny Spirtus and Daniel Rockberger, NSLComm has raised $9.35 million to date.
Experiments in microgravity can lead to significant breakthroughs, particularly in medicine, and SpacePharma is all about facilitating such experiments with specialized lab systems and sensors. The company has introduced mGnify, a miniaturized end-to-end lab that can be remotely controlled from anywhere and used with different microgravity platforms, including SpacePharma’s nanosatellites. Founded in 2013 by Ido Priel and Yossi Yamin, SpacePharma has so far raised $5 million.
Founded in 2004 by Tuvia Liran and Ran Ginosar, Ramon Chips develops semiconductors for the space industry. The company’s technology has been tested for radiation immunity, rendering the technology suitable for outer-space applications.
Effective Space provides life-extension and commercial in-orbit services to satellite operators. The services include life-extension by station keeping; relocation to new orbital slots; re-utilization of inclined satellites; orbit correction for misplaced satellites; and deorbiting end-of-life satellites. The company was founded in 2013 by Arie Halsband.
*A host of SpaceTech startups will present at our Space Week event with former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman on January 29, 2020. Are you a founder of a SpaceTech startup? Let us know.