In the Depths of Space In the Depths of Space Dozens of specialists, scientists and space agency leaders from around the world gathered today in order to pay respects to the fallen ones of the Columbia Tragedy. IAF Commander gave a speech at the “Colonel Ilan Ramon” convention, in which the specialists will discuss the past few years’ achievement s in space

Tal Michael and Lya Shanel

In the past eight years, the “Ilan Ramon” convention in memory of the first Israeli Astronaut takes has taken place at the Fisher institute and the Space and technology office. This week will mark ten years since the Columbia tragedy, in which seven astronauts’ lives were taken.

“It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since that day, and as someone who lost a friend in the Columbia I can say that gathering here today is the perfect way to honor them. They would have been proud of this”, shared Charles Bolden, Head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “We continue advancing and in the future we’ll be sending people to mars and to asteroids, but for now we have to keep on working hard, make the necessary concessions and learn from our mistakes”.

Bolden explains that had it not been for the tight bond between NASA and other international agencies, the significant progress in the space field would not have been possible. “The cooperation emphasizes our commitment to Israel, and sending Ilan Ramon to space was just one of the examples”, he stated.

In the eyes of the world, Israel is portrayed as one of the leading countries in terms of space advancement, and the seminar proved that sentiment true. “Israel has significant scientific and technological power and there is no doubt that it is one of the world’s leading exports of space technological applications”, explained Professor Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Technology and Science. “Space research is very important and promotes cooperation and good relations here on earth”. As an example, Professor Hershkowitz shared the fascinating cooperation in the physics field between Israel and its neighbors. “The particle accelerator located in Jordan is shared between Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian National Authority, Kuwait and even Iran”.

Space Capabilities as a Substantial Part of Operational Activity

IAF Commander Major General Amir Eshel spoke at the assembly about the connection between the IAF and space. “The threats we have to face come from beyond our borders”, he said. “Nowadays, space is our strategic depth, and what maintains our advantage. Thanks to the satellites we produced here, we have the abilities to carry out missions of any range”.

We are dealing today with a wide range of threats and enemies. From knife to nuclear, in various changing ranges”, said Major General Eshel. “The direct threats in front of us can come from far away to our battle-front and rear”.

Major General Eshel added that “There are clear dramatic changes here. Beginning with the weakening of surrounding countries’ authoritative power that reveals various terrorist activities, at borders that used to be quiet, and even the phenomena of the disintegration of countries around us, as what is happening in Syria”.

In his speech, the IAF commander also talked about the future ahead. “Many changing and complex challenges stand before us. The threats have evolved and we have to stop them before they reach our borders. The IAF is a center player in the struggle splayed across thousands of kilometers, and our space abilities are a substantial part of this operational mission”.