From the launching of a communications satellite to cooperation with the European Space Agency: 2013 was a busy year in terms of Israeli space activity. In honor of Israeli Space Week, which will be held this week, IAF Site gives you the opportunity to fall in love with outer space and looks back at the activities of the Israeli Space Agency over the past year
This week, Israel marks its annual Space Week, and all over Israel, conferences and events will be held for space enthusiasts of all ages.
This year’s Space Week will be marked by the 11th annual memorial of the first Israeli astronaut, the late Colonel Ilan Ramon. Colonel Ramon went out on his mission on the “Columbia” shuttle after years of serving as a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force. On February 1st, 2003, the “Columbia” shuttle returned from its mission outside of the atmosphere, but fell apart upon re-entry. Ilan Ramon and six other aircrew members died in the crash.
Just before the countdown to Israeli Space Week, IAF Site takes a look back at the highlights of the Israeli Space Agency over the past year.
What’s in a Name?
In April, it was decided that the Ministry of Science and Technology would be called the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space. “The name change makes a clear statement: that the topic of space is a top priority for the government”, said the chairman of the Israeli Space Agency, Major General (res.) Prof. Itzhak Ben Israel. “The change will advance the topic in the mind of the public and will help promote Israel’s advanced scientific and technological image in the world”.
Mapping the Stars
In late August, the “Amos 4” communications satellite, the biggest and most advanced satellite ever developed and manufactured in Israel, was launched from a launching site in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It has a lifespan expected to reach 12 years and its main purpose is to increase the communication range and to expand the coverage in Russia and South East Asia. “In the satellite and digital age, space and cyberspace are critical issues for Israel’s security”, said Yaakov Peri, Minister of Science, Technology, and Space. “The launching of ‘Amos 4’ shows us once again that for Israeli technology, the sky is not the limit. The satellite launch is another milestone set by the State of Israel, placing it on the list of the five leading countries in the field of space [technology]”.
In October, a cooperation agreement in the field of satellite technology was signed for the first time between the Israeli Space Agency and the European Union. The agreement will allow industries and academics in Israel to participate in projects in the field with their counterparts in the EU and will promote bi-national development projects. “The political message of this agreement is that we want to work with Israel. It is important for both peace and…for the development of research”, said then-Vice President of the European Commission and the current Commissioner of Industry and Entrepreneurship at the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, during the signing ceremony. “The participants are connecting worldwide space programs for the sake of common development, and in so doing, save time and…bring the Israeli aerospace industry development”, said Israel Space Agency CEO, Menachem Kidron in an interview with AIF Site. “We are looking for new projects all the time and we are making quite an effort to have the Israeli Space Agency become a member of the European Space Agency”.
LIVE International Space Station
In October, a space conference was held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which both high school and university students were able to take part in a talk with an astronaut from the International Space Station. The astronaut, Luca Farmitano, talked about the living conditions in space and about the missions he carries out in space in a live broadcast that was aired simultaneously in Italy and Germany. “I was excited to see how young people from came from all over the country and were fascinated by the lectures”, said Israeli Space Agency CEO, Menachem Kidron, in an interview with IAF Site. “We put an emphasis on the topic of space, when it comes to the youth and young adults. We can create amazing satellites or strengthen global cooperation, but it won’t be worth anything if we do not develop the next generation of scientists”.