Israel has aims to send its second astronaut into space, and has already taken steps to that end.
The Israel Space Agency has reached out to counterparts in other governments in a bid to send a representative to the International Space Station, 11 years after Israeli Col. Ilan Ramon died in the Columbia space shuttle explosion.
It takes several years to train an astronaut for space, and openings at the ISS are already filled for the next two years, meaning the accomplishment is still a ways off. Still, Israel has spoken with agencies in the US, Europe, Russia and China to get the ball rolling.
“All the flights to the space station are fully booked for at least two years,” Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, ISA’s chairman, told the Jerusalem Post. “But if we want a second Israeli astronaut, we have to start talking now.”
Next week, Israel will host its annual Space Week, which will include a tribute to Ramon. The Jewish state has also been selected to host the 2015 International Astronautical Federation conference, which will bring thousands of experts in the field to Israel.
The space sector is an important one for Israel, which prides itself as an innovation nation. Currently, an Israeli team is also engaged in Google’s Lunar X contest, which has pledged $30 million to the first team that can land an unmanned craft on the moon and complete a series of missions.