Israel's space industry, on the verge of collapse, is a potential "gold mine," Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz said this week. In a discussion on the future of the industry at the Knesset Science and Technology Committee on Tuesday, Herschkowitz, from Habayit Hayehudi, said the main problem was that despite the potential to expand the sector, it was not being used efficiently enough. Committee chairman Meir Sheetrit of Kadima called for the allocation of $150 million a year to promote the industry. Herschkowitz pointed out that Israel was a member of the small and "exclusive club" of countries that have the ability to produce and launch satellites and to process data from them. While there is a tremendous potential for the industry, it is not properly exploited to promote the economy, he added. Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, chairman of the Israel Space Agency and a former Kadima MK, said the local space industry was established 30 years ago for military needs, but it also had much industrial, scientific and technological uses. Last year the government invested $80m., but this should nearly double, he said. Prof. Haim Eshed, head of the military space program, said the country's space industries were in a "deep crisis" because the various infrastructures were "old and worn out" and there was a lack of government support for research and development. Qualified scientists and engineers are being dismissed, he added. The training of the next generation of space engineers is being harmed, and the industry is shrinking and in danger of collapse, but the industry cannot bear the costs by itself, Eshed warned.