Israeli Spacecraft Aims for Historic Moon Landing… Within Months: Stuart Winer & Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, July 10, 2018— Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon…

A Match Made in Hi-Tech Heaven: Israel and South Korea: David Lee, The Media Line, July 5, 2018 — Israel and South Korea top the list of countries that spend the most on science and technology R&D.

IDF’s Cyber Defenders Prepare Their Responses for the ‘Unknown Threat’: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, July 4, 2018— The cyber defenders of the Israel Defense Forces are preparing to deal with future unknown threats that will not resemble the dangers known today, a senior cyber officer has told JNS.

Is Desalination the Answer?: David Brummer, Breaking Israel News, July 11, 2018— Over the last two decades, desalination has appeared to be the answer to Israel’s urgent potable water shortfall, but in reality it has produced damaging and problematic unintended consequences.

On Topic Links

Israeli Technology Providing Vital Communications Link to Cave-Trapped Thai Boys: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 5, 2018

Israel’s Ladder to Space: Andy Blumenthal, Times of Israel, July 12, 2018

Israel70 | Innovation: Africa: Sivan Ya’ari, Fathom, July, 2018

8 Israeli Startups On World Economic Forum’s 2018 Technology Pioneers List: NoCamels, June 21, 2018



MOON LANDING… WITHIN MONTHS                                    

Stuart Winer & Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, July 10, 2018

Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon, having blasted off from Earth two months earlier, project managers said at a news conference Tuesday. If all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

The probe will be launched sometime in December from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, officials said during the media event, held at an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) space technology site in Yehud. It is scheduled to land on February 13, 2019. The project, begun seven years ago as part of a Google technology contest to land a small probe on the moon, was conducted together with IAI. “We will put the Israeli flag on the moon,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL.

“As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous,” Anteby said. “The motor will brake the craft and it will reach the ground at zero speed for a soft landing.” “In the first stage the Israeli flag will be put on the moon,” he said. “During the landing the craft will photograph the landing area with stills and video and even record itself.”

The spacecraft will carry out a Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the moon’s magnetic field, finishing its mission within two days. SpaceIL’s vehicle is just two meters in diameter and 1.5 meters tall standing on its four legs. It weighs 600 kilograms, making it the smallest craft to touchdown on the moon.

Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, who donated some $27 million to the project, told a gathering of journalists: “We are making history.” The idea, he said, is to inspire youth in Israel to take up science studies and to have the impact the Apollo lunar mission had in 1969, when astronauts landed on the moon, with people remembering forever where they were on that day. “This is a tremendous project,” Khan said. “When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon.”

The Israeli government has promised to fund 10% of the project, he said, but the money still has to come. “The government should recognize that space is very important for the future,” he said. “This is national history,” said IAI director Yossi Weiss. “The path to the moon is not easy. It is a very complicated route.” “The cooperation between SpaceIL and IAI is an example of the amazing abilities that can be reached in civil space activities — activities that combine education, technology, industry, knowledge and a lot of initiative.”

Whereas other previous moonshot spacecraft have taken just days to reach their target, SpaceIL will be fired into an elliptical orbit to gradually bring it closer to the moon, a journey that will take two months but will save on carrying the fuel needed for a quicker passage. Even so, the craft will travel at a speed that is 13 times faster than the maximal speed of an F-15 fighter jet, steering itself to the moon, which is some 384,000 kilometers (239,000 miles) from Earth, about 10 times the distance between Earth and communication satellites orbiting it. Through its elliptical journey, the Israeli spacecraft will cover some 9 million kilometers, the project managers said.

The Falcon 9 launch rocket’s primary load will be a much a larger communications satellite. The craft itself — the very same one that will land on the moon — was displayed in a so-called “clean room” on site. Journalists and visitors had to don white robes and hats and cover their shoes before accessing the space. Shiny gold insulating paper covered its spiderlike legs. The gold paper will cover the whole of the craft once it is finally ready, the creators said.

The spacecraft’s design and development is all Israeli, the organizers explained. The fuel is contained in balloon-like devices within the lightweight metal frame of the craft, with one engine at its center, and smaller engines on the side. The craft is equipped with solar panels, avionics, electronics and a control system – all of which were developed in Israel. It is also equipped with cameras and communication equipment so it can continuously be in touch with its operators on Earth.

The project is making “the moon reachable, which it never was before,” said IAI’s  Weiss at the event. “Going to the moon was a hugely expensive government-run mission. And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the moon.” This is the first time an enterprise, not a country, has gone to the moon at a reasonable cost, and it is “going to show the way for the rest of the world on how space is much more than just satellites.” Humanity is looking for ways to make it easier to get to the moon and other planets, he said, and this mission paves the way for that.

In the coming months the spacecraft will undergo a series of intensive checks and tests at IAI, including with the use of simulators, to prove that it will withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions, said SpaceIL’s Anteby at the event. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December.

SpaceIL began in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub decided to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, an international contest with a $20 million prize for the first privately funded team that puts a small, mobile craft on the moon. Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group kept going with its project, gaining funding from various donors including Kahn and the Adelson family. In total the project has cost some $95 million.

Only three countries have made soft landings of craft on the moon — Russia, the US, and China. The Russians were first in February 1966 with their Luna 9 probe followed by the US in June the same year with Surveyor 1, and then the Chinese with the Chang’e 3 craft in 2013. Other countries have succeeded in crashing scientific probes into the surface. Only the US has landed people on the moon, with the first human steps on the surface taken by Neil Armstrong on July 21, 1969, when he famously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”




A MATCH MADE IN HI-TECH HEAVEN: ISRAEL AND SOUTH KOREA                                                         David Lee

                                                               The Media Line, July 5, 2018


Israel and South Korea top the list of countries that spend the most on science and technology R&D. Israel and South Korea have more in common than one would expect. Both are democratic countries that declared their independence in 1948 – the former gaining it only three months before the latter. Both countries also oversee some of the world’s most militarized borders.

They furthermore have strong economies supported by thriving hi-tech industries. According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel and South Korea spend the same proportion of its GDP towards Research and Development (R&D) – 4.2 percent, the highest in the world.

For the past three to five years government ministries and companies around the world have been eyeing hi-tech’s steady march forward in the two countries, which have also not been shy about working together. Indeed, some would say it’s a match made in heaven. The Israel Innovation Authority reported that more than 140 joint Israeli-Korean technological innovation projects were launched in 2016 involving a total sum of $54 million. “Israel is the fourth-leading exporter [among Middle Eastern countries] to South Korea,” said Cho Kyung Jin, a senior manager at KOTRA, an agency that promotes South Korean trade and investment with other countries.

Cho’s office – a branch of KOTRA based in Tel Aviv – provides buyer and market information to companies in Israel and South Korea. “We observe the Israeli market for Korean companies so these companies can make appropriate adjustments to the local Israeli market,” Cho told The Media Line. He explained that the main Korean exports to Israel included automobiles, mobile phones, and household appliances. In fact, one of five cars sold in Israel is reportedly from Korea. Additionally, Korean mobile phone sales gained more than 50% of the Israeli market.

Korean companies, by contrast, were interested in about 3,500 Israeli venture groups in the areas of bio-tech, medical equipment, renewable energy and aerospace. Itzik Yona, the CEO of Yonaco, an Israeli consulting agency for businesses that are eyeing South Korea, told The Media Line that “Koreans cannot work without face-to-face interactions; the country has a very unique business culture.”

Yona got the idea of starting his own consulting firm when many Israeli businessmen came to him for help on how to navigate South Korea’s business culture. “For the last 15 years with Yonaco I’ve been negotiating transactions and promoting businesses in Korea. It started with Israeli companies wanting to do business and invest in South Korea. Now we have clients in Europe, Singapore and the United States,” said Yona.

He added that Israel was a powerhouse for innovation in medical devices, green technology, pharmaceuticals and robotics. Yet, Israelis face some setbacks after the innovation phase. “People in Israel are building companies to do one of two things: either to sell them or take them to an IPO [an initial public offering]. This means that after these companies reach a certain maturity and other interested parties step in, their technologies often exit Israel, the place where they originated.” He continued, “Koreans know how to take core technologies and make them into a product. The capabilities in South Korea are to design a product, execute quality control over the product and order the production chain in a very efficient way.”

While both countries have their strengths and weaknesses, Yona said they complement each other almost perfectly. “South Korea knows how to take core technologies and make products, while Israel knows how to make core technologies.” There are others avenues through which this type of joint cooperation runs. Korean conglomerates make investments in Israeli startups through venture companies. Another popular option for big names in South Korea, such as Samsung and LG, is to open up accelerators in Israel.

“Accelerators are [investment and support] initiatives that provide small companies with about $50,000 to examine their technology for six to eight months. They can screen technology and get closer to it,” explained Yona. Samsung Next and the LG R&D Center are examples of these accelerators which directly involve Israeli startups that want to work under the umbrella of tech-giants such as Samsung.

South Korea’s heavy investment in Israeli technology in the past few years may have been influenced by the aggressive investment strategies from its neighbors China and Japan towards the global market. Yet South Korea has a smaller stake of interests in Israel than do China, Japan and India. “While South Korea is not among the countries doing the most trade with Israel, I think this economic partnership will continue to grow exceptionally,” said Yona.

Sageworks, a company that provides financial analysis to hi-tech firms, reported that information-technology was the fastest-growing industry in the US. With businesses relying heavily on the fast pace of information exchange, it seems that this sector – which is dominant in both Israel and South Korea – will expand much more in the future. “Some industries in South Korea consider it a crucial strategy to trade in technology, consumer electronics, mobile technologies and networks. So, these Israeli companies will do business with South Korea for a long time to come,” said Yona…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Yaakov Lappin

JNS, July 4, 2018

The cyber defenders of the Israel Defense Forces are preparing to deal with future unknown threats that will not resemble the dangers known today, a senior cyber officer has told JNS. Military assessments place cyber warfare on par with the potential damage that conventional weapons can incur. In some cases, cyberattacks can surpass the damage caused by known threats like missiles. A cyber arms race rages between Israel and its foes, parallel to the conventional arms race that is under way.

At a cybersecurity conference late last month in Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the challenges Israel and all developed countries face from adversaries now bent on cyberattacks. “We cannot go back to the world of levers, pulleys and couriers. Since we are going forward, we are absolutely vulnerable,” he said. “Our airlines can be brought down; our fighter planes can be brought down.”

Netanyahu—who said that Israel receives about 20 percent of the global investment in the sector, and who noted Israel’s cybersecurity center in Beersheva that combines military, business and high-tech know-how—added that there is “no silver bullet” against cyber threats. “This is a supreme test for our civilization. It’s going to be tested not only by criminal organizations, by terrorists, but by other states. We have to combine forces,” said Netanyahu.

Sgt. 1st Class M, the head of the Cyber Department in the IDF’s Hoshen Unit, leads personnel that defend the military’s sensitive communications networks, without which the Israel Defense Forces could not function. Whether wireless, wired, or using satellites and phones, the Hoshen Unit is involved in enabling military communications, and its personnel are aware of the fact that Israel’s enemies are keen on being able to shut down the IDF’s networks if they could.

“One can naturally understand that the IDF has been marked as a priority [target],” M said. “We are the focus of enemies. So we must act all day and night proactively, to defend and track, and be able to intervene in case of an incident.” As part of that effort, the unit invests a great deal of thought into meeting threats that do not currently exist, he stated. “I can say that we are, all of the time, thinking about what will arrive tomorrow morning, about the non-trivial things. We use red teams [personnel that simulate the enemy] to attack ourselves, and we conduct surprise exercises on ourselves, at 2 a.m. on a summer night, when incidents come as a surprise. That is how we know what our defense levels are,” the officer said.

Last month, Hoshen’s Cyber Department organized a competition for all of the military’s cyber defenders to get them to think out of the box and prepare for tasks they are not used to carrying out. The “Capture the Flag” competition was hosted by Cisco Systems, an American networking hardware giant, at its offices in Netanya. Cisco works closely with the Hoshen Unit, as its association with the event symbolizes. “We took a whole day and brought personnel from across the whole of the military, split them up into groups and gave the participants cyber riddles with varying difficulty levels,” M said. “The goal was to win as many points as possible.”

The event included the participation of classified units, as well as cyber personnel from the Israeli Air Force and Navy. The goal was to get them to develop new abilities, M said. “Everyone has their forte—some are experts on the web, some do programming. Our goal was to take them out of their routine and expose them to things they don’t usually deal with on a day-to-day basis, so that they won’t be weak in those areas.” The event also took IDF engineers who don’t work directly in cyber warfare and gave them a crash course in the world of cyber defenses. “They came out of this on a higher level,” said M, “and that’s what matters.”




David Brummer

Breaking Israel News, July 11, 2018

Over the last two decades, desalination has appeared to be the answer to Israel’s urgent potable water shortfall, but in reality it has produced damaging and problematic unintended consequences. It is time to rethink Israel’s water strategy, especially in light of the April 2018 storms when millions of cubic meters of urban runoff simply flowed into the sea, rather than being redirected to replenish diminishing natural underground water reserves (aquifers). And beyond re-thinking the strategy, there are challenging questions about why Israel is proceeding with hugely expensive and energy-inefficient desalination rather than a proven cheaper and better alternative.

For at least the last five years, an acute lack of rainfall in drought conditions and an accelerating water deficit has been overtaxing Israel’s desalination and wastewater treatment plants. The received wisdom is that the only answer lies in the construction of more desalination plants, and indeed Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry has announced its intention to build two further such plants, which would be the sixth and seventh respectively – at a cost of approximately US$400 million each. Is this the most efficient and cost-effective response?

With the political and military temperature rising, and a standoff with Iran now teetering, investment in less targetable and more energy efficient water purification and storage sites would seem logical and appropriate. So why, when there is growing and significant evidence for more effective, cost-efficient and equitable solutions to the water crisis is there a myopic focus on the perceived impregnability of water desalination?

For Dr. Yaron Zinger, from the Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Israel (a unique platform, cooperating with Water Sensitive Cities Australia and headed by KKL-JNF, in collaboration with the Hebrew University, the Technion in Haifa and Ben-Gurion University), a number of pilot programs and field studies point to the efficacy and potential widespread implementation of biofiltration, which converts wasted urban runoff into a new secure water resource.

Biofiltration is the process of using selected plants and different soil densities to remove impurities from rain or storm water.  And it is an Australian model that provides the inspiration – Australia leads the world in biofiltration with thousands of bio-filtration systems in the city of Melbourne and many more in the city of Adelaide where hundreds of Dunams use biofiltration to create drinking water.

Zinger and Prof. Ana Deletic, a world-renowned academic and expert in water engineering, were part of a team that conducted a case study in Melbourne, and found that growing plants in certain areas and filtering rain and drainage runoff water through them, resulted in several positive outcomes: primarily, the treated water was cleaned, purified and stored; and secondarily, the ambient temperature surrounding biofiltration sites was reduced, and the vegetation and foliage at the sites enhanced the attractiveness to residents of nearby areas. A 2010 agreement between Water Sensitive Cities Australia and KKL-JNF to establish a joint Australia-Israel research center also led to examining broader questions about urban planning and use of water…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links

Israeli Technology Providing Vital Communications Link to Cave-Trapped Thai Boys: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 5, 2018—Rescuers working to save a Thai youth soccer team trapped deep inside a flooded cave are using an Israeli technology to maintain communication with the 12 boys and their coach.

Israel’s Ladder to Space: Andy Blumenthal, Times of Israel, July 12, 2018—Wow, what an unbelievable announcement in the last day that Israel is planning a lunar landing from aboard a SpaceX rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral towards the end of the year.

Israel70 | Innovation: Africa: Sivan Ya’ari, Fathom, July, 2018 —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited African three times in the last 18 months, with the continent increasingly being perceived as a strategic asset. BICOM CEO James Sorene spoke to Sivan Ya’ari the founder of Innovation: Africa, a New York based non-profit that brings Israeli solar, agricultural and water technologies to rural African villages.

8 Israeli Startups On World Economic Forum’s 2018 Technology Pioneers List: NoCamels, June 21, 2018—June 21, 2018 | Eight Israeli startups were on the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers cohort of 2018 list, which was unveiled Thursday.