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German lunar shuttle to fly Israeli Helios hardware to the Moon

German lunar shuttle to fly Israeli Helios hardware to the Moon

The OHB corporation signed an agreement with the Israeli space tech startup to send its lunar mining hardware to the Moon by 2025

Yafit Ovadia | 16:09  18.10.2021
As part of its upcoming venture to send its mining capabilities to extract oxygen from the Moon, Israeli space tech startup Helios, signed an agreement on Monday with OHB SE, a European multinational corporation headquartered in Germany. The agreement will guarantee a future lunar landing system, coined LSAS (Lunar Surface Access Service). OHB has partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Helios, signing a Memorandum of Understanding to fly Helios’ technology onboard the first three LSAS missions to the Moon by 2025.

As part of an effort to bring scientific and commercial payloads to the lunar surface as of 2025, IAI, Helios, and OHB’s Space Systems and Aerospace division will work together to transfer payloads that weigh between 80 - 110 kilograms to the Moon. According to OHB, more than 100 parties from across the scientific and aerospace industries have already expressed interest.

Helios CEO Jonathan Geifman (right) shakes hands with Dr. Timo Stuffler of OHB. Photo: OHB Helios CEO Jonathan Geifman (right) shakes hands with Dr. Timo Stuffler of OHB. Photo: OHB Helios CEO Jonathan Geifman (right) shakes hands with Dr. Timo Stuffler of OHB. Photo: OHB

OHB will select the payloads, integrate them into its own Moon landers, and oversee their launch and mission operations. The German multinational corporation has been partnering with IAI for three years, who will contribute its expertise gained from its own earlier Moon mission. OHB has locations around Europe aside from Germany, including in Luxembourg, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, the Czech Republic, and French Guiana.

Helios was founded in 2018, and receives backing from the Israel Space Agency, the Israel Ministry of Energy, and the Israel Innovation Authority. The company's vision is to enable sustainable human life on Earth and beyond. It is developing reactors to produce oxygen on the lunar surface, and others to produce iron and silicon on Earth with zero carbon emissions.

Production of oxygen on the lunar surface is key to enable the expansion of humanity beyond Earth and to dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration, explained Helios CEO Jonathan Geifman. “Oxygen will be the most sought after consumable in space as it makes up over 60% of the mass of any fully loaded space vehicle designated for lunar missions and beyond. Helios' lunar mission with OHB serves to mature its oxygen production technology under real lunar environment, and is a significant step to realize the upcoming cislunar industry."

"Returning and establishing a permanent base on the Moon requires international cooperation and the creation of partnerships between space agencies and privately-held companies”, noted BG (Res.) Uri Oron, the newly-elected Director-General of the Israel Space Agency. “Helios, an Israeli startup supported by the Israel Space Agency, is a company that will become a key player in the efforts to return to the Moon. The Israeli Space Agency welcomes the cooperation between OHB SE, Helios and Israel Aerospace Industries. This cooperation demonstrates the strong, long-lasting relationship between Germany and Israel, and the contribution this partnership can yield to the space industry."

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"In the development of the lunar economic market, we intend to fill a gap with LSAS as the first European lunar shuttle service, since according to current plans, a European moon lander will be available by 2029 at the earliest," said Dr. Lutz Bertling, who serves as a member of the OHB SE Management Board. "When payloads for lunar missions are tendered in the near future, we’ll be ready with our lunar landing service.”

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