Israel preparing to send second astronaut into space

Eytan Stibbe, a former fighter pilot, is slated to take off for space from Florida during the last months of 2021.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel is preparing to send its second-ever astronaut into space, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announced at a Jerusalem press conference on Monday.

Eytan Stibbe, a former fighter pilot, is slated to take off for space from Florida during the last months of 2021.

He is expected to spend 200 hours at the International Space Station. Three months before taking off, he will undergo intense training in Russia, Germany, and the U.S.

“This is a day of national celebration and immense pride,” said Rivlin. “An Israeli pilot, with a blue and white flag on his uniform, is proving once again, as we have proved here over the last 72 years, that even the skies are not the limit.”

“My dear Eytan, up there…you will do Israeli experiments, some of which have been developed by our young people. You will be the messenger of those brilliant brains, the present and future generations of Israeli research, and will help them understand how the world works when we look at it from afar.

“You will be Israel’s representative in a human effort to understand the wonderful workings that allow life on this planet, and uncover the secrets of the universe.

“We give you our blessings for the way and wish you great success. Go in peace and return in peace, and do not forget to wave to us from up there. We are waiting for you here at home.”

Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was killed in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Ramon’s eldest son Assaf was later killed in an accident during a training flight, just three months after graduating from the Israeli Air Force pilots’ course as the top cadet in his class.

Tal Ramon, Ilan Ramon’s younger son, spoke at the press conference and said his late mother would have been thrilled at the news. Stibbe is a longtime friend of the Ramon family.

“I’m very excited because I know if my mother were standing here she would put up her hands in victory like this, and speak very proudly about our friend, a friend I remember from my very first memories,” he said.