Israel Aerospace Industries and the UK-based Effective Space, an aerospace startup that works to “deliver, position, maintain, monitor and guarantee space assets in orbit and beyond,” announced on Wednesday that they had signed a cooperation agreement that includes technological and financial partnerships.
Under the conditions of the agreement, IAI will become the primary contractor of Effective Space’s SPACE DRONE spacecraft, as the state-run company will work to complete the necessary approvals for undisclosed equity investment in Effective Space. The two companies said in a statement they had been working closely for more than a year, including on the SPACE DRONE spacecraft design.
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The SPACE DRONE developed by Effective Space is a unique, small spacecraft that aims to extend the life of satellites in orbit, based on the vision to provide logistics services in the rapidly growing space economy, the company said in a statement, adding that it has developed “patented technology for rendezvous and docking to satellites in space.” The spacecraft is set to provide station-keeping and attitude-control, relocation, de-orbiting, orbit and inclination correction, and is capable of providing up to 15 years of overall life-extension service, according to Effective Space.
The UK startup signed a contract last year with an international satellite operator that will see two SPACE DRONE spacecraft launched in 2020 to extend the life of two existing satellites. The deal is expected to generate revenues of more than $100 million, it said in a statement.
“This partnership is an excellent example of the added value in the connection between IAI – Israel’s largest aerospace company – with start-ups and the world of innovative technologies and business entrepreneurship,” said IAI CEO Nimrod Sheffer. “IAI’s vast experience and its expertise in the development and manufacturing of small, light and fast satellites, and the innovative concept of Effective Space, has the potential for significant business activity.”
Effective Space founder and CEO Arie Halsband said: “IAI is globally recognized as a leader in the development and construction of commercial satellite technologies, and in particular, those with high performance and a small form factor. IAI’s intention to directly invest in Effective Space is a strong endorsement of our SPACE DRONE™ program and an indication of the potential return for investors from this new era of logistics in space and in-space robotics.”
Halsband is a former general manager of IAI’s Space Division.