ISA head: Teens know little about Neil Armstrong

Israeli children generally do not learn a lot about space exploration, even though it is relevant to their lives.

August 26, 2012 23:07
1 minute read.
US Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

US Astronaut Neil Armstrong 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Many Israeli teens don’t know the name Neil Armstrong – the first man to walk on the moon – but they probably know the first sentence he said upon landing: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” says Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, chairman of the Israel Space Agency.

But, he added in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, probably many came across the name by reading the newspapers, watching TV and going on the Internet, which all announced the death of the US astronaut on Saturday at the age of 82 from complications following open-heart surgery.

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Ben-Yisrael said that Israeli children generally do not learn a lot about space exploration, even though it is relevant to their lives. This is not only because of its discoveries about the universe but also the technological developments, including miniaturization and medical advances, that would not have been possible without the huge investment in space, or at least would have taken much longer to achieve, he said.

Ben-Yisrael, a former MK and major-general, and until 10 years ago head of MAFAT, the IDF’s internal research and development arm, did not meet Armstrong when the former astronaut visited Israel as a private initiative.

“He was here to meet youth and to look into education efforts. He was a great but modest hero. In 1969, when he flew in the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, he was very bold, as nobody knew if they would return alive,” Ben-Yisrael said.

NASA feared then that there might be deadly bacteria on the moon, so astronauts were kept isolated upon return until it was sure they had not been infected, said Ben-Yisrael.

“There is no water on the moon, so it wouldn’t be possible. But now NASA hopes there are bacteria on Mars, where the unmanned space vehicle Curiosity recently landed, as bacteria mean there is water. That would be a great discovery.”

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