Israel to send astronaut into space

By Rosa Doherty, January 22, 2014

Israel has confirmed it has plans to send an astronaut into space.

The Israel Space Agency (ISA) has held talks with the US, European, Russian and Chinese space agencies 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 the NASA’s Columbia mission when the shuttle crashed in February 2003.

If Israel's space plans are accepted, the mission will not happen for another four years.

Ben-Yisrael said: "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 there is a 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.

Last updated: 2:46pm, January 22 2014