Israel's Helios has signed a memorandum of understanding for its oxygen and metal producing technologies to be included in three lunar missions by Germany's OHB SE space technology company, the firms announced this week.
Helios, backed by the Israel Space Agency (ISA), the Energy Ministry, and the Israel Innovation Authority, works to enable sustainable human life on Earth and beyond. The company is developing a reactor to produce oxygen from the lunar surface and reactors to produce iron and silicon on Earth with zero carbon emissions.
Its technology will fly on three Lunar Surface Access Service (LSAS) missions run by OHB SE, which aims to provide European and international customers with timely access to the moon.
"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, an institutional European moon lander will be available in 2029 at the earliest," said Dr. Lutz Bertling, member of the OHB SE Management Board. "When payloads for lunar missions are tendered in the near future, we want to be ready with our LSAS lunar landing service."
OHB is preparing the LSAS with its partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with a goal of bringing scientific and commercial payloads to the lunar surface by 2025. Over 100 interested parties have already contacted OHB.
OHB's spacecraft is being built based on the experience that IAI gained in the Beresheet moon lander project.
Helios' CEO Jonathan Geifman explained that "production of oxygen on the lunar surface is key to enabling the expansion of humanity beyond Earth and to dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration. Oxygen is going to 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," added Geifman.
Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Uri Oron, Director-General of the ISA, explained that establishing a permanent lunar base will require international cooperation and partnerships between space agencies and private companies.
“Helios, an Israeli startup supported by the Israel Space Agency, is an example of a company that will become a key player in the efforts to return to the moon," said Oron. "The Israel 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."