The International Space Conference will be held in Israel in 2015, the Science and Technology Ministry has reported, and will be one of the largest conferences in Israel in years.

The venue was chosen at last week’s annual conference of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), held in Naples, Italy. The conference is the world’s largest gathering on space.

The Israel Space Agency’s bid surpassed those of Thailand and Mexico. The annual space federation event is held every October, each time in a different country. Some 3,000 space scientists, ISA officials and industrial leaders attend and learn about the latest innovations and discuss space policies.

The IAF is the largest body in the world in the field of space and has 250 member organizations around the world. It aims at advancing space know-how and the development of products by encouraging international cooperation.

The event in Jerusalem will attract many tourists and include 30 symposiums and 2,000 lectures by experts from 70 countries and also include a huge space exhibition.

The successful bid was made possible by the unanimous support and encouragement among state agencies and offices. Among those who voice their enthusiastic support for holding the conference in Jerusalem were President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Science and Technology Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality.

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz said he was thrilled that efforts to bring the conference to Jerusalem succeeded.

“Participants will become Israel’s ‘ambassadors’ to the world in the field of space by seeing our advances in the field,” he said.

The choice of Israel to host the conference is a sign of growing recognition of Israel’s abilities in the field of space, said Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, chairman of the Israel Space Agency, which operates under the ministry’s aegis. Ben-Yisrael, a former senior IDF official, was presented at the Naples conference with a life membership in the International Astronautical Academy.

“We worked for a whole year on our bid to host the 2015 conference. It will bring honor to the country and the space agency, and the investment has proven itself. It will advance Israeli space activity in academia and industry,” added Israel Space Agency director-general Menahem Kidron.

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