Israel’s first lunar lander launched into space from Florida

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel’s first lunar lander on a mission that if successful will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon’s surface.

The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet – Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning” – soared into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop the 23-story-tall rocket.

Beresheet, about the size of a dish-washing machine, was one of three sets of cargo carried aloft by the Falcon 9, part of the private rocket fleet of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s California-based company SpaceX.

The rocket’s two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

Beresheet was jettisoned into Earth orbit about 34 minutes after launch, followed 15 minutes later by the release of the two satellites, according to a SpaceX webcast of the event.

In addition to a textbook launch and payload deployments, SpaceX scored yet another success in its pioneering technology for recycling its own rockets.

Just minutes after blastoff, the Falcon 9’s nine-engine suborbital main-stage booster separated from the upper stage, flew back to Earth and landed safely on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean more than 300 miles (483 km) off the Florida coast.

As seen from the launch site, the distant glow of the returning booster rocket was visible in the sky just as the moon appeared over the horizon. The spectacle drew cheers from mission control engineers.

The encouraging moment came on the eve of a key hurdle for SpaceX to clear in the company’s quest to help NASA revive its human spaceflight program.

On Friday, NASA is expected to decide whether to give its final go-ahead to SpaceX for a first, unmanned test flight on March 2 of a new capsule the company designed for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

FROM EARTH TO THE MOON

Beresheet is slated to reach its destination on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space.

A flight path directly from Earth to the moon would cover roughly 240,000 miles (386,242 km), but Beresheet will follow a more circuitous route.

If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft’s gradually widening Earth orbit will eventually bring the probe within the moon’s gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.

So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

Spacecraft from several countries, including India’s Moon Impact Probe, Japan’s SELENE orbiter and a European Space Agency orbital probe called SMART 1, have intentionally crashed on the lunar surface.

The U.S. Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon – the only ones yet achieved – between 1969 and 1972, with about a dozen more robotic landings combined by the Americans and Soviets. China made history in January with its Chang’e 4, the first to touch down on the dark side of the moon.

Beresheet would mark the first non-government lunar landing. The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished almost entirely by private donors.A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel’s first spacecraft designed to land on the moon lifts off on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Beresheet is designed to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon’s magnetic field. Data will be relayed via the U.S. space agency NASA’s Deep Space Network to SpaceIL’s Israel-based ground station Yehud.

At the end of its brief mission, mission controllers plan to simply shut down the spacecraft, according to SpaceIL officials, leaving Beresheet as the latest piece of human hardware to litter the lunar landscape.

The article was published on Reuters


Israeli anti-drone system used to re-open London’s Gatwick Airport

Costly, humiliating shutdown continues, after another drone is spotted amid unsuccessful police manhunt.

Another drone sighting forced London’s Gatwick airport runway to close again on Friday, as the 3-day long saga continues.

Police were still unsuccessfully looking for perpetrators in a disturbance that grounded flights in the second-busiest airport in the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday, although British media favored the option of a lone-wolf environmentalist attack.

The airport has been in an ongoing dispute with its neighbors and environmental groups about expansion.

Planes were suspended on Wednesday night after a member of staff spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) above the runway.

More than 110,000 had been affected by the closure, in one of the busiest weeks of the year.

Gatwick was only able to re-open after military reinforcements were brought in on Thursday.

They came with technology that was used to defeat ISIS in Syria, which the Daily Mail identified as the Israeli-made Drone Dome.

It uses radar technology to spot a drone, and a frequency jammer in order to cut the vehicle from its pilot, and bring it down to the ground softly.

The UK purchased six of the system, unveiled in 2016, in August for Middle-East operations, at a cost of close to US$ 3.3 million each.

Drone Dome is manufactured by government-owned Rafael Systems, which has specialized in cutting-edge weapon interception systems.

– Potential catastrophe –

Aviation chiefs are going to be on a steep learning curve to counter the security threat posed by drones after the costly and humiliating shutdown of Gatwick.

The fear is that if a drone smashed into a passenger plane or was sucked up into one of its engines, its highly flammable lithium battery could cause a catastrophe.

In 2016, the European Aviation Safety Agency logged 1,400 drone incidents in Europe, up from 606 between 2011 and 2015.

Deputies in the European Parliament approved EU-wide regulations on the use of drones, but still need formal approval from European ministers before taking effect.

But finding high-tech solutions to the drone threat in airport presents particular challenges, says Lucas Le Bell, founder of the start-up Cerbair that specialises in tackling the drone problem.

The noise levels at airports, the security requirements and the saturated level of communications make the task much harder.

His team is working on isolating the frequencies used to control drones, so they can not only detect and locate the devices but take control of them.

Elsewhere in France meanwhile, Mont-de Marsan airbase in the southwest has been working on a more low-tech solution.

The airforce, inspired by a similar experiment in the Netherlands, has been training golden eagles to search and destroy the intruders.

But that system still needs work: earlier this year, one of the eagles attacked a girl after mistaking her vest for the enemy.

The article was published on I24 website


JLM hi-tech event: Scaling Up JLM’s Ecosystem to Create Europe’s First Google

JERUSALEM’S HIGH TECH PIONEERS IN BRUSSELS FOR EU TWINNING CONFERENCE
 “No politics, let’s get this done together!”

Brussels, 7th June, 2018. The brief is ambitious, “Scaling up Jerusalem’s ecosystem to create Europe’s first google”, but when European Parliamentarians, EU Institution policy heads and Jerusalem’s brightest and best high-tech entrepreneurs and venture partners got together in the European Parliament, the message was clear, “no politics, let’s just get it done together!”

The conference was organised by the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and heritage and their partners in Europe the European Jewish Association, Europe Israel Public Affairs, the European Jewish Community Centre and the European Coalition for Israel, and hosted by Romanian Socialist MEP Andi Cristea and Liberal Lithuanian MEP Petras Austrevicius.

Israel and the EU already co-operate within the framework agreement, but there is scope to scale things up more, a message that was shared with the conference. “If you fund the scaling up, we will double it”, said Jerusalem Development Authority CEO Eyal Haimovski on the opening panel.

The conference itself focused on the technicalities of setting up an ecosystem, and the ingredients needed for it to flourish, over a busy three panels, the busy Committee Room humming with guests, heard about incentivizing on the part of policy makers to encourage and stimulate action and innovation, the role of venture capital and creating a business angel network, embracing failures as part of success, and lastly but my no means least, establishing and nurturing innovative grass roots communities.

Speaking at the event, MEP Andi Cristea underlined:  

Jerusalem’s ecosystem is a unique asset and an incredible success story. I am glad our friends from the city have accepted our invitation and will share their experience here, within the premises of the European Parliament, amongst friends and to the benefit of our friendship, our people and our common future.”

It’s time for the politicians to do something they don’t like doing: shut up and let the experts take the lead on this issue,” MEP Petras Austrivicius added, and made a strong pitch for Vilnius as a tech hub, saying it had long been known as the ‘Jerusalem of the North’.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder of the European Jewish Association and Europe Israel Public Affairs who organised and managed the event in Brussels said,

There is a clear appetite to co-operate and develop the EU-Israel innovation partnership further, and in particular foster ties going forward with Jerusalem, to learn and, we hope replicate, the city’s great and ongoing successes.

“In talking to many of the participants, from the EU and from Israel, the message is clear: No politics, let’s just get this done. Today’s conference was a solid and inspiring start to that process where networks were made, inspiration given and with potential business very much in the offing.”

Following the conference, a twinnovation lunch took place in EIPA’s HQ, addressed by His Excellency Leshno-Yaar, where EU high-tech companies were able to ‘speed date’ with their Jerusalem counterparts.

JLMhi-tech day was finished with a bigHigh Tech Night celebration in Place Luxembourg. where the crowds got to try some amazing Jerusalem street food, check out the amazing technology coming out of the city and have a couple of beers.


Intel’s Mobileye Deal Marks Israel as Autonomous Tech Hub

Israel’s emergence as a center for automotive technology got a vote of confidence on Monday when Intel Corp. said it would pay $15 billion for Mobileye NV, a Jerusalem-based maker of chips and software for driverless cars. It will be the largest takeover of an Israeli tech firm and follows a series of deals and partnerships inked in recent years by major tech and auto companies.

“The deal proves in a dramatic manner that our vision is coming true. Israel is becoming a global technology center, not only in cyber, but also in the automotive area,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a text message. Israel had already singled out the automotive technology sector as a possible economic boon, allotting it 250 million shekels ($68 million) for the next five years.

At least five major car manufacturers have made investments in Israel. Ford Motor Co.bought computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS AC in August and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG invested in transit app Moovit in 2015. Daimler AG and General Motors Co. have also opened research and development centers in the country.

The Mobileye deal went far beyond the $4.7 billion sale of fiber-optic company Chromatis Networks Inc. to Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2000, which was the country’s biggest tech deal before Mobileye. Founders Ziv Aviram, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman Amnon Shashua, will share just under $1 billion from the sale, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of Dec. 31. Shmuel Harlap, the largest shareholder, will make $1 billion, according to Bloomberg data as of April 1, 2016.

Netanyahu’s Director General Eli Groner said the autonomous tech sector could potentially boost economic growth by 50 percent.

Fast Track

Israel is not renowned for its car-making industry, once turning out fiberglass-shelled cars that were briefly popular in Israel in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the country is now benefiting from the automobile industry’s increasing focus on software rather than hardware.

In Israel, the automotive technology sector currently counts about 350 startups, according to industry monitor IVC Research Center, with the potential, according to Gruner, to grow bigger than the cybersecurity industry, which drew 15 percent of global capital raised by the sector in 2016, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a group that promotes Israel startups.

Argus Cyber Security, based in Tel Aviv, in January announced a partnership with Qualcomm Technologies to protect cars from hackers. Otonomo Technologies Inc., a data platform that tells users when to stop driving due to a malfunction and can call emergency services when there is an accident, is working with nine car manufacturers, including Daimler. Aquarius Engines, which has designed and developed an engine to generate electric power, is working with Peugeot SA and three other automobile companies.

Gal Fridman, chairman and chief marketing officer of Aquarius Engines, said the deal “definitely makes our lives easier.”

“It validates Israel’s ability in technology in the automotive industry, traditionally American and German and not at all Israeli,” Fridman said. “Mobileye has dramatically helped us open the door wider into this industry.”

The autonomous sector is expanding even as Israel’s tech sector suffers from growing pains. Although the country’s tech industry grew faster than gross domestic product nearly every year between 1998 to 2009, in the five years following it surpassed national growth only once, in 2012. The Finance Ministry acknowledged in a report last year that the industry that fueled Israel’s economy for the past two decades was stagnating.

Mobileye has also had its issues. Last year, Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla Inc.stopped using Mobileye’s systems and the two companies argued publicly about the breakup.

After the Mobileye acquisition was announced, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who have been reducing corporate taxes, announced they would consider further cuts.

“We view this deal as an indication that the more attractive Israel is for foreign investors, the more tax revenue we will generate,” Groner said in a phone interview.

Tax breaks are already part of the government’s program to encourage global technology companies to do more research and development in Israel as other countries vie for companies like Intel to put down roots on their soil.

“The deal will increase the attention and funding for the already burgeoning Israeli cohort of next generation autonomous driving technology startups,” said Jon Medved, founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform based in Jerusalem.

The Article was published on Bloomberg.com on the 14th of March 2017.


EU Injects €7.7M Into NanoPack To Develop Nanotech Packaging That Prolongs Food Shelf Life

The European Union has invested €7.7 million in the Israeli-led project NanoPack, a new initiative to develop antimicrobial food packages for perishable foods, based on nanotechnology. These solutions could reduce the staggering 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year, which cause major economic loss and significant harm to the world’s natural resources.

In order to extend food’s shelf life, the team – led by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology – is using novel antimicrobial surfaces and natural materials.

“NanoPack will demonstrate a solution for extending food shelf life by using novel smart antimicrobial surfaces, applied in active food packaging products,” Dr. Ester Segal of the Technion said in a statement. “NanoPack will enhance food safety for consumers by significant growth inhibition of food-borne microbes, which in turn will prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and early spoilage.”

Applying the power of nanotechnology, the project will employ polymer composites based on natural Halloysite Nanotubes (HNTs) as reliable and safe carriers, capable of tailored release of bio-active payloads. Thanks to their size, HNTs are unable to migrate from the food packaging into the food.

Worldwide, a trillion plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Simon van Dam, Project Manager of NanoPack, tells NoCamels the team will also examine whether these new packages can be recycled.

Natural oils prevent disease

Maximizing safety, HNTs in the NanoPack food packaging slowly release tiny amounts of potent, natural and EU-approved essential oils into the packaging headspace. The oils exhibit both antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and can be tailored to inhibit growth of most food-borne microbes.

The active polymer films developed by NanoPack exhibit broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties, without the use of nanomaterials such as silver particles, which have raised health concerns of toxicity and microbial resistance.

NanoPack intends to develop, scale up and run pilot lines in operational industrial environments to manufacture and validate antimicrobial polymer films that are commercially feasible and accepted by retailers and consumers alike.

According to Segal, the three-year project, involving 18 research teams from European countries, is excepted to “present better-performing, safer and smarter products that will position Europe as the leader in food nanotechnology and smart antimicrobial packaging while increasing competitiveness and growth.”

the article was published at NoCamels.com 


Netanyahu, Rivlin, Peres launch new Israeli Innovation Center

‘The future belongs to those who innovate,’ Netanyahu says at launch event

After decades of dedicating himself to public life in Israel, anyone would think that 92-year-old former President Shimon Peres would want to put his feet up and enjoy his retirement. But he doesn’t seem to know the meaning of slowing down and appears to become more active with age. On Thursday morning he proved this when he was joined by other top officials to launch the Israeli Innovation Center, which will be established at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.

Leading movers and shakers in the world of Israeli start-ups and innovation gathered at the center, a non-profit organization that brings together a diverse and multi-faceted spectrum of participants, to hear all about the new innovation hub that highlights some of Israel’s best technologies.

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Israel has been dubbed the “Start-up Nation” due to the high number of innovative technologies and successful start-ups that have been developed in the country.

Peres, who was noticeably emotional about the launch, was greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation when he took to the stage at the beginning of the event.

“We were a country with limited resources,” Peres said. “We had a small population, but we believed in our vision that led to our creation. We overcame our desolate land, and we turned it into one of agriculture that for the first time was built on hi-tech.”

Peres told the adoring audience that the new center was a source of pride for the country and that it would help bring peace between nations.

He even went on to say that it’s not only Israel who can benefit from innovation, but the whole region. “l call on our neighbors to establish a startup region.”

The current president, Reuven Rivlin, was next to speak and while the applause for him wasn’t as loud as it was for Peres, he was also welcomed with a standing ovation.

Rivlin said that Peres was the symbol of Israeli innovation and that as he gets older, he becomes more creative.

The president highlighted that while there is a lot to be proud of in Israel in terms of technology, there is still a long way to go. He talked about how people from Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities aren’t always given the same opportunities as others. “We are trying to change this,” he said emphatically.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau, who gave an address at the end of the event, also spoke about the disparities that exist within the country. He focused more on the geographical inequalities and said that he was working to make sure that every part of the country is able to enjoy the benefits of Israel’s technology and innovation sectors.

He joked with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai that Tel Aviv wasn’t the only city in the country that can benefit from investments in innovation infrastructure and that he wanted to see towns and cities from the north and the south of the country leading the way.

Netanyhau noted that countries around the world turn to Israel because “they know that our security systems and technologies are the best.” He said that because Israel has years of experience in dealing with terror, it has become a global leader in technology.

2d25e3ddd06ab8537e4b14d1c0f61a821183cc3bIn a very impassioned speech, Netanyahu excitedly told the audience that this year alone he had met with some 120 heads of states and foreign ministers, and when talking about the success story of Israeli innovation he told them all: “The future belongs to those who innovate.”’

He also had some criticism and said that while Israel should be lauded for what it has achieved, there are still problems. The prime minister noted that education needed to be improved and also that markets should be freed up so that more people have the opportunity to innovate.

In what was a moment of comic relief at an otherwise formal event, the guests of honor – Rivlin, Peres, Netanyahu and his wife Sara, all tried on Virtual Reality headsets so that they could experience the cutting-edge technology firsthand. To the amusement of many in the audience, Netanyahu removed his headset after a few seconds as it appeared that it wasn’t working. Rivlin, Peres and Sara, on the other hand, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Dr Yossi Vardi, one of Israel’s first high-tech entrepreneurs, led a panel titled “Innovation as a Tool for Social Empowerment.” He introduced the participants – Dr. Kira Radinsky, Sari Rott and Liat Segal – as some of the leading figures in the Israeli innovation scene. He said that the fact they were all women was by chance and that they were chosen because they are the best in their field.

In a tribute to what the Peres Center is all about, a group of five children from the northern Arab village of Daburiyya presented a cutting-edge recycling robot that they had created. They each took turns to explain how and why they had invented the robot and received possibly the loudest applause of the day.

The Israeli Innovation Center will open its doors in 2018 to hundreds of thousands of visitors from Israel and around the world, with a focus on students, soldiers, ministers and heads of state, tourists, and business delegations from around the world. It will attempt to tell the story of Israeli technologies that have changed the world.

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The article was published on i24news on the 21th of July 2016