NASA chief Bolden hails Ilan Ramon on first visit here

Delegation, US envoy and Rona Ramon meet with Peres, Herschkowitz at Beit Hanassi.

January 25, 2010 05:56
2 minute read.
NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. presents

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.

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Bolden's 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 Studies.

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 Technion.

A 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.

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