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OHB and IAI Team in Proposing Lunar Surface Access Service to Europe

January 29, 2019

OHB System AG and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), signed a teaming agreement at the Ilan Ramon Space Conference. Under the agreement, the companies will offer a commercial Lunar Surface Access Service (LSAS) for payloads up to 150 kg to the European Space Agency (ESA). The TA was signed by Marco Fuchs, Chief Executive Officer of OHB SE and OHB System AG and Opher Doron, General Manager of IAI’s Space Division.The signing ceremony was attended by Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of ESA, Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund, chairperson of the Executive Board of the German Space Agency DLR, Avi Blasberger, director general of Israel Space Agency and Morris Kahn, President SpaceIL.

Under the agreement between the companies, OHB System AG, based on its long successful heritage in space missions, will act as prime contractor and will manage the work with ESA and the developers of scientific payloads for the lunar lander. IAI, for its part, shall provide a version of its lunar lander which was co-developed and built for SpaceIL; flight-ready and preparing to launch next month from the US.

OHB will manage the service commercialization and mission definition with prospective users; and manage the project and mission from payload choice and integration to launch and mission operations. As an outlook also a support on the lunar lander is envisaged. IAI will build the lander, accommodate payloads, integrate with launcher, support the LEOP & decommissioning and provide technical support in all mission phases from design, payload integration, launch and mission operations. 

ESA’s ISRU initiative – In-Situ Resource Utilization - will involve landing landers on the moon to test technologies for producing oxygen, water and other raw materials from lunar soil as well as collect and analyze samples of the moon’s earth. These technologies are needed for long-term human colonization outside Planet Earth. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Director General of ESA, says: „Another brickstone for the Moon Village...excellent!“

“Exploring the moon and using it as a base is a logical next step for me that offers many advantages and opportunities. Landing on the surface of the moon, however, is still a challenge. At OHB we have carried out several technology studies on landing, using Moon resources e.g. for fuel, oxygen or water production, and on robotics. We also have a vast amount of experience in managing and accommodating very diverse payloads on spacecraft. I look very much forward to bringing the OHB expertise into cooperation with IAI and to jointly tackling the challenges posed by future Moon programs”, said Marco Fuchs. Nimrod Sheffer, IAI CEO and President said, “IAI is proud to collaborate with a global satellite leader as well as with Europe’s and Germany’s space agencies. This is a badge of honor for the Israeli space industry. The technological knowhow acquired in the development and manufacturing of “Beresheet” lunar lander with SpaceIL and the teaming with OHB allow us to partake in the advanced global research of outer space. We are proud of the opportunity to take the Israeli space industry to new frontiers and look forward to Beresheet’s launch and journey to the moon next month.” Avi Blasberger, director of Israel Space Agency: "We welcome agreements that promote the Israeli space industry. The Israeli Lander to the moon has significant commercial potential".

The OHB Group is also working with the American space company Blue Origin on lunar landing systems. Both companies signed a Letter of Intent at the International Space Congress IAC in Bremen in October 2018. The aim is to find out to what extent OHB and its subsidiary MT Aerospace can work together with Blue Origin across the Atlantic. The companies have joined forces for a future Blue Moon mission to the moon - Blue Moon is Blue Origin's lunar landing device that can carry several tons of cargo to the moon. The companies also plan to collaborate on a payload on board Blue Origin's reusable New Glenn orbital rocket. In addition, the OHB Group is also working on the feasibility of a lunar orbital base as a starting point for astronautical missions to the Moon or Mars. The working title, according to Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway. OHB System AG was selected to participate in one of two parallel studies for the planning of the European module ESPRIT (European System Providing Refuelling, Infrastructure and Telecommunications).