charles bolden 311.
(photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel-Aviv)
If any verification was needed as to Israel's
science and technology prowess, it was supplied Sunday by delegation of
America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration, headed by NASA
chief Charles Bolden, who confirmed the agency wants to continue its
space research cooperation with Israel.
delegation, along with senior representatives of Israel's aerospace
industries, US Ambassador James Cunningham and Rona Ramon, the widow of
Israel's pioneer astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, met with President Shimon
Peres and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz at Beit
Hanassi in Jerusalem on Sunday.
The NASA team is here to join representatives of some 20 other
countries who are attending the annual Ilan Ramon International Space
Conference, at which Bolden is the guest of honor.
While NASA people come here regularly, this is Bolden's first
visit. Bolden is a member of an international space trade mission
jointly organized by Airlift, the United States Embassy in Israel, the
Futron Corporation and the Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space
Among the participating companies are Israel
Aerospace Industries (IAI), Elbit Systems Electro-optics (ELOP),
Rafael, Gilat, Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Space X.
The delegation's week-long stay in Israel includes visits to
IAI, ELOP, Rafael and the Asher Space Research Institute at the Haifa
retired Marine Corps major-general, Bolden, 63, became NASA's 12th
administrator last July. Fourteen of his 34 years with the Marine Corps
included membership in NASA's Astronaut Office. He initially joined
NASA in 1980, and between 1986 and 1994, participated in four
space-shuttle orbits. In two of these, he was commander of the mission.
He participated in the flight that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the first joint US-Russian shuttle mission.
Following his final space shuttle flight in 1994, he returned to
active duty in the Marine Corps, serving in several senior posts at
home and abroad before retiring from the corps in 2003.
Israel is connected to NASA in many ways, Peres told Bolden.
"We can't forget Columbia
," he said, referring to the
ill-fated mission in which Ramon and six other crew members were killed
when the space shuttle disintegrated on February 1, 2003, just 16
minutes before it was scheduled to land.
Of all the space agencies, said Peres, NASA was the most
advanced in exploring the mysteries of life and the future of mankind's
potential in outer space.
Peres expressed admiration for people who risked their lives
while exploring space, and also spoke of the financial risks involved,
paying tribute to US president John F. Kennedy, under whose watch the
decision was taken to send Americans to the moon.