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Canada Wants to Go to Space With Israel

The Canadian Space Agency is willing to work with a country that did not vote to ban weapons in space.
March 11, 2015, 8:46pm

Artist's rendering of a ground- and space-based laser weapon. Image via Wikimedia Commons

While the US bickers with Benjamin Netanyahu over the fate of an Iranian nuclear weapons agreement, Canada is busy going to space with Israel—a country that's not wholly against the weaponization of the final frontier.

In a government tender issued on a procurement website, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) asks for private sector study proposals on a potential "Canada-Israel Space Mission" looking into the viability of new "maritime object localization" and broadband telecommunications payloads.

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The total available funding for the contract—which asks for Canadian academic and private sector thinkers to draw up potential joint projects with Israeli industry players—is set at $300,000 pending final approval from the CSA and Israeli Space Agency (ISA).

It's worth noting that both national space agencies have links to their respective defense departments, which oversee all military activities.

While interstellar missiles and X-Wing dogfights are still science fiction, in recent months Israel has signalled its intention to leave the door open to weaponizing space.

In a United Nations draft resolution put forward by the Russian Federation and China in October 2014, member states were asked to vote against the weaponization of space and the "threat or use of force against outer space objects," stressing an urgency to prevent an outer space arms race.

The only countries to vote against the resolution were the US, Israel, Georgia, and Ukraine, the latter two regimes heavily dependant on American support against Russian military aggression.

It's believed US military assets are starting to use space-borne telecommunications networks, while another iteration of the famous Israeli anti-missile systems—like the Iron Dome, a futuristic missile shield famously employed over the summer against Hamas rockets—is being developed to intercept missiles in space.

The space mission with Canada is further proof of warming diplomatic and industrial relations with Israel since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister—in 2014, he was the first Canadian leader to speak to the Knesset.

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"Canada and Israel have had a long standing partnership in space cooperation," said Jake Enwright, press secretary to Minister of Industry James Moore. "As the only liberal-democratic state in the region, the government looks forward to continuing that partnership as we explore ways to ensure the global competitiveness of the Canadian space sector."

Enwright maintains the project isn't a joint military mission between both nations, but "civilian in nature."

In 2005, the Liberal government led by then-prime minister Paul Martin, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government inviting private and academic sector operators from both countries to cooperate on space-related projects.

In late 2014, the same agreement was reaffirmed by Moore and Israeli counterpart, Yaakov Perry, Minister for Science, Technology and Space, at a space summit in Toronto.

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