Israel bidding to send second astronaut into space

Israel is in talks with the world's space agencies to add an Israeli astronaut on a manned space mission in the coming years.

Israel is in talks with the world's space agencies to add an Israeli astronaut to a manned space mission in the coming years, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space announced today to mark the 9th Annual International Ilan Ramon Space Conference, which will be held in Eilat next week. The conference is organized by the Israel Space Agency and the Fisher Institute.

Only one Israei astronaut, Ilan Ramon, has flown in space, but was killed in the crash of the Columbia space shuttle in 2003. This time Israel wants an astronaut to spend time at the International Space Station. Ramon spent 16 days on the Columbia space shuttle mission.

Despite the tragic past, there is no lack of candidates for the job. Israel Space Agency chairman Isaac Ben-Israel told "Globes" that a call for candidates will be announced soon, and that anyone can apply. "This time, we're not necessarily looking for an Air Force combat pilot, and anyone from any profession and every walk of life in Israel can apply, so long has he or she is an Israeli citizen."

"Globes": Even someone who has not served in the IDF?

Ben-Israel (thinking): "Yes. Nothing in the call for candidates excludes such a person. This is not a security matter. The first selection will be for health. We need candidates who are in good physical and cognitive health. They will undergo tests for the features needed by an astronaut, such as the ability to make decisions fast and under pressure."

When Ramon was selected, another Air Force pilot was also chosen, who never reached outer space.

"Yes. This time, too, we will probably train several astronauts because who knows what might happen from the start of training to the flight. As for the astronaut who was already trained, Yitzhak Mayo, he is invited to submit his candidacy like everyone else, although there may be a problem of age."

Ben-Israel says that sending an astronaut to space depends on agreements with one of the four countries operating in space: the US, Russia, China, and the EU. They are the only countries with agencies with astronaut training programs, and they all use Russian rockets. Flights to the International Space Station are booked for the next two years, but Israel wants to make a reservation now, to have to time to train an astronaut.

Israel hopes that one of the space agencies will assume part of the costs of training an Israeli astronaut, as NASA did in the case of Ilan Ramon. "Israel is not a rich country, and we'd need a big budget to fly a person to space. It simply won't work," said Ben-Israel.

Although Israel does not currently have a manned space program, it is considered as one of the most advanced countries in aerospace, both in the building of reconnaissance satellites and in scientific research in space subjects, partly on the basis of data obtained from other countries' space vehicles.

Jerusalem will host the 2015 International Astronautical Federation convention, which will be attended by 3,000-4,000 experts.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on January 21, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

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