The Science and Technology Ministry changed its name on Sunday, adding “Space.” The longer name, proposed by Minister Yaakov Peri, was approved by the cabinet.

Adding “Space” was meant to promote space research and technology and to make it clear that it will become a central field in the ministry and be given higher priority in the government, Peri said.

Recently, his ministry declared 2013 as “the Year of Space” to reflect its plans to promote a variety of educational and informational projects on space in academia and the community.

“In a digital and satellite age, space and cyber are subjects that are critical to the security of Israel,” Peri told the cabinet.

“Space... will be one of the pillars of the ministry, and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) – which operates under the [ministry’s] aegis – will significantly expand its activities.”

Peri, the former head of the Shin Bet, stressed that his office wants to put Israel among the five leading countries in space projects and research.

“We seek to raise the level of the ISA to the best in the world and within a few years ensure that we reach a situation in which space from the civilian, economic and scientific aspects will be similar to its high status in aspect of security.”

Among the projects that the ISA is working on are binational cooperation on building the Venus satellite with France and the Shalom satellite with Italy and cooperation with Israeli space industries, Peri said.

The ministry has received a significant budget increment in the field of space, and in the past year it has started to promote a national space program to leverage and expand the country’s relative advantage, especially in the field of communications, lightweight satellites and ways to launch them, the minister said.

ISA chairman Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael congratulated the cabinet on the decision and said that the name change makes it clear that space will have high priority in the government.

“It will also increase public awareness and promote around the world the image of Israel’s advanced technologies,” he concluded.

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