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Italy and Israel: all clear for SHALOM

The space agencies of the two countries announce in Tel Aviv the start of a programme for building two Earth observation satellites

''The key to our success is reciprocal trust: we could not exchange our technologies, our know-how and our experience if we were not absolutely sure of the reciprocal trust that exists and will continue to exist between our countries and between our people'': with these words Franco Frattini, the foreign minister, opened the 'Italo-Israeli Science Forum' at the Italian embassy in Tel Aviv on 23 November.

During the meeting, which received warm regards from the Nobel prize-winner Rita Levi Montalcini, the space agencies of the two countries (ASI and ISA) announced to the audience of representatives from Israel’s academic and industrial sectors the agreement signed regarding the SHALOM project. This is a programme to build two satellites with joint technology in hyperspectral Earth observation and will occupy the same orbit as Cosmo SkyMed and will therefore integrate radar observations with observations in the visible infrared and ultraviolet.

''This agreement,'' commented the president of ASI Enrico Saggese in Tel Aviv, ''will allow the full integration of Italian and Israeli technologies, both essential for the creation of two medium-sized satellites for which the specific techniques will be established in detail by a joint Italo-Israeli technical-scientific group.'' The agreement marks another important step forward in space cooperation between the two countries, which started in January 2009 with the meeting between ASI and ISA with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, in Jerusalem and continued by signing the “joint declaration” in Rome on 20 March 2009, with the involvement of the scientific and industrial communities of the two countries. ''It is no coincidence,'' underlined the minister, who was in the Middle East for a three-day mission, ''that Italy is the Israel’s first partner among the European countries in the field of scientific cooperation, and is second only to the United States.