Israeli Space Tech and its Potential Impact on Sino-Israel Cooperation

The prospects of space innovation provide the scientific and technological drive to influence markets. Across civilian sectors, the advancements made in space enable increased safety and environmental management on the ground. In utilizing space technology, China can facilitate broader scientific cooperation while mitigating costs of R&D. As such, SIGNAL Note 19 will touch on how partnerships between Israeli and Chinese partners could result in important scientific and economically impactful discoveries.

In line with the broader ambitions of China’s 13th 5-year plan, chiefly promoting innovation, environmentally conscious growth and policy connectivity, the PRC released a White Paper on China’s Space Activities in 2016. In response to the White Paper, we will elaborate on the added value Israeli technology and innovative methods could bring to the ever-modernizing Chinese space program. As in previous SIGNAL Notes, we will touch on how Israeli military innovations are paying vast dividends to the civilian sector in the fields of agricultural and security. 

Through the context of the BRI, we will illustrate how Israeli space tech could facilitate closer working relationships between Israeli and Chinese players in security and environmental applications. In drawing a clear connection between Israeli innovation and China’s space program, this SIGNAL Note will reflect how closer Sino-Israeli cooperation could help China reach its ambitious policy projections to become a ‘Moderately Prosperous Society.’

Chinese White Paper & Prospects

To capitalize on vital platforms for scientific growth, China has heavily invested in space technology in recent years. From 2011-15 it is estimated that $695 million was invested in space science. Spending for space science programs is expected to reach $2.27 billion from 2026-30, according to Bloomberg news. 

The People’s Republic of China has increasingly realized the mass appeal space based technologies have on spurring scientific innovation. Experience has proven that space provides an essential crucible to test the technologies of the future. As such, on December 27, 2016, China published a White Paper reaffirming its commitment to developing the Chinese space program to the benefit of the Middle Kingdom as well as the international community. 

According to the White Paper, China views the advancement of space technology as quintessential to “meeting the demands of economic, scientific and technological development, national security and social progress.” China views space as a catalyst to meet the increasing domestic demands for “independently produced innovative solutions.” In its attempts to achieve the policy goals outlined in China’s 13th 5-year plan and the recent White paper, the prospects for international partnerships appear to be essential to reaching broader environmental and security based aims. 

China’s desire for innovative and coordinated development extends specifically to growth in its satellite and space science development programs. As the successes of the Gaofen ‘High Resolution Earth Observation System’ and the ‘Beido Navigation Satellite System’ have illustrated, tangible returns can be seen on Chinese investment within a few short years. Increasingly, space based technologies have impacted global markets in military and civilian sectors. Satellites affect daily life of billions around the world, while scientific breakthroughs engineered with space technologies are driving global development.

Policy connectivity and scientific exchange will prove to be a vital linchpin to best reach the ambitious space based goals set out by China. Therefore, Chinese partnerships with established space agencies, such as the Israel Space Agency (ISA) will heavily dictate the possibility of success in developing highly advanced satellite technology. 

Israeli Space Technology

Since the launch of the Ofeq-1 on September 19, 1988, Israeli scientists and military engineers have stood at the forefront of satellite innovation and space science development. In order to securely provide vast data sets, ranging from agricultural and metrological information to timely security and military applications, Israeli designers created devices with flexible formats for evolving technological solutions. Through the extended development of the Ofeq program (Currently on version 11), Israeli scientist have pioneered inexpensive launch methods and advanced miniaturization technology. Through the ISA’s successes, Israel has become known as a global hub of space innovation.

To best develop Israel’s scientific capabilities the ISA has paired with significant international players to enhance scientific collaboration and promote pragmatic use of strategic resources. In building, strong working ties to international space agencies, Israel has benefited in significant ways. Israeli technology has consistently been launched into space through cooperation with NASA and the European Space Agency. This has generated impactful data enabling civilian crossover use to the advantage of the global consumer. Additionally, the strong professional bonds generated in complicated scientific collaboration has enabled diverse cooperation on other projects. 

Israeli Space Developments & the BRI

China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) relies upon a dizzying array of data solutions to give all partners a comprehensive understanding of the projects underway. Environmental conditions, weather patterns, and globally positioning systems all significantly impact how accurate the data set can be. China has already made major investments in the vast projects of the BRI, so it is a logical outgrowth to strengthen the means of data collection. In rethinking space based data management, Chinese partners stand to benefit from a fuller picture of events globally through cooperation with established international partners. In Israel NSL Satellites, ORBIT Communication Systems and EXO Technologies are leading the way in space based scientific applications.

NSL Satellites

NSL Satellites develops cutting edge communication systems for small satellites. Through specialization NSL builds platforms for diverse security and environmental applications. NSL’s “patented expandable antenna is folded and stored inside the satellite during launch, and therefore does not need to withstand launch load and size limitations. NSL Satellites’ large-aperture expandable antennas provide up to 500 times more bandwidth than traditional antennas. The technology permits the antennas to be stowed compactly during launch and deploy after launch, saving mass, volume, and supporting structures.”

By advancing satellite technology with high bandwidth and small size NSL has created a cost-effective solution to global imaging needs. For the Belt & Road Initiative, NSL Satellite technology could be used to monitor construction, weather patterns and environmental degradation. At a low price point with high potential for diverse scientific and security applications, Chinese partners could gain a game changing resource with minimal investment.

ORBIT Communication Systems

ORBIT Communication Systems manufactures and engineers a broad spectrum of communications equipment and solutions directed towards airborne, maritime, and ground applications. “ORBIT is a global provider of innovative maritime satellite communications solutions, highly accurate ground stations for earth observation and remote sensing to track LEO and MEO satellites, telemetry systems for tracking missile launches and airborne platforms, and communication management solutions.”

Precision GPS enable real-time awareness of goods and services traveling across the world. As China looks to recreate the Maritime Silk Road, advanced GPS systems stand to bring an all-encompassing data set of items moving across global markets. Through smart systems and innovative GPS technology, Chinese partners decrease risk in transport and cost to consumers producing win-win cooperation. With the incorporation of this innovative Israeli solution, Chinese investors benefit from the tested Israeli R&D which is already driving global markets.

EXO Technologies

EXO Technologies generates platforms focusing on high-accuracy GPS for autonomous vehicles via ‘on the market’ GPS devices. These systems give data instantly, acquiring centimeter-level accuracy. “The hardware-agnostic platform, PICO, enables seamless integration and entails unlimited range. The system sends corrections to receivers all over the world via the internet, thereby delivering greater location accuracy without the need for personal or commercially-operated base stations. PICO has widespread applications on earth and in space, ranging from GPS to communications and military systems.”

As China advances domestic scientific and communication innovation, accurate GPS becomes an important resource. In facilitating seamless and integrated GPS, Chinese investors gain vital data platforms which can be used in any part of the product chain from manufacturing to retail. In utilizing Israeli technology to advance Chinese space based goals, all players stand to gain in professional partnerships and tangible applications on the ground.

Cooperation enables Win-win opportunities

In practice, Israeli scientific collaboration combined with the innovative culture of the Jewish state has provided an array of space based solutions to manage agricultural and environmental issues. As Israeli satellite technologies have developed, the cost has significantly decreased while data output has grown exponentially. As a result, the Israeli space technology market could provide major value to the expanding Chinese industry. If China decides to use already developed Israeli based Space products, such as satellites and sensors, it stands to gain a vast tactical and strategic advantage to address the challenges with space innovation.

How is this Relevant to China?

Increasingly, the focus on scientific innovation has become a cornerstone of China’s progression into a developed economy. To benefit from the vast opportunities space based scientific testing offers, it is necessary to build productive international partnerships. In decreasing the risks and pooling resources, China and potential international partners can make significant breakthroughs in science and earth observation without the cost and complications often associated with individual research and development. NSL Satellites, ORBIT Communication Systems, and EXO Technologies are just a few of the examples of what can be gained through international space collaboration with Israeli partners.

As Israel is a global leader in science and innovation, it is a natural step to build lasting and coordinated academic and policy bonds between Israeli and Chinese Space agencies. Through cooperation and joint technological pursuits, the possibility of reaching the goals outlined in China’s 13th 5-year plan become an ever more approachable reality.

How is this Relevant to Sino-Israel Relations?

Sino-Israel relations benefit from the innovative qualities Israel brings to the equation. As Israel increasingly provides the essential scientific capital needed to promote advances in planetary science further engagement with the Chinese Space Agency could stand to benefit both sides significantly.

For China, the ability to access and develop Israeli pioneered scientific and space based advancements could enable the Chinese space program to achieve game changing breakthroughs. Through the integration of Israeli satellite and sensor technology, China could gain greater insight into geologic, environmental and security based issues.

For Israel, the prospect of broad scientific cooperation with Chinese partners is very alluring. Though closer cooperation, Israeli products and scientific discoveries could build strong bridges of cooperation across many important fields between Israeli and Chinese experts. In providing China with the needed technological resources to reach its space based goals, the Israeli scientific community becomes a valuable partner for the Middle Kingdom while realizing the economic incentives inherently connected to this level of exchange domestically.