Astronaut wanted, must speak Hebrew

By Rosa Doherty, January 23, 2014

Admirers of Israel’s high-tech prowess this week had another reason to celebrate: the Jewish state intends to put a man in space.

The Israel Space Agency (ISA) has been in talks with its US, European, Russian and Chinese counterparts about dispatching an astronaut to stay on the International Space Station.

ISA chairman Professor Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael said he thought there would “be many candidates eager to go to space, despite the tragedy that killed Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon”.

Mr Ramon died on Nasa’s Columbia mission when the shuttle disintegrated in mid-flight in February 2003.

If the talks with international space agencies are successful, an Israeli could be in space in four years.

Prof Ben-Yisrael told the Jerusalem Post: “All the flights to the space station are fully booked for at least two years.

“But if we want a second Israeli astronaut, we have to start talking now.”

Astronauts can travel in groups of up to three at a time, and stay in space for a few weeks.

The longest period anyone has lived on a space station is one year.

ISA officials met towards the end of last year in China to discuss Israel’s Space Week conference that takes place next week.

Over 3,000 scientists and space agency officials are expected to participate in the conference.

Two years ago, a privately-funded Israeli project called SpaceIL announced plans to land a small craft on the moon. A launch date is yet to be announced.

    Last updated: 12:02pm, January 23 2014