Israel and the European Space Agency set the scene for more-intensive joint efforts in space science and exploration with the signing on 31 January of a cooperation agreement. Talks on a framework agreement go back to 2007.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Israel developed its own infrastructure for research and development in space exploration, including developing the Shavit launcher. In 1983, the Israel Space Agency was established as the governmental body to coordinate all Israeli space research programmes for scientific and commercial goals.
In 1988, ISA launched its first satellite, Ofeq 1, on a Shavit rocket from the Palmachim spaceport on the Mediterranean coast. This made Israel the eighth nation to gain an independent launch capability. Since then, the country has developed and launched a range of sophisticated communications, Earth observation and scientific satellites.
Israeli researchers have been cooperating for many years on several European space science projects, such as Huygens, Hubble, Cluster and COROT. In 1995, Israeli students joined an international workshop organised by ESA to develop a concept for a Moon-exploration probe.