President Herzog talks to Israel’s man in space, Eytan Stibbe

Eytan Stibbe’s arrival on the ISS was widely anticipated for the groundbreaking Rakia mission

 Israeli astronaut  Eitan Stibbe. (photo credit: ORI BURG/SPACEX)
Israeli astronaut Eitan Stibbe.
(photo credit: ORI BURG/SPACEX)

President Isaac Herzog on Sunday spoke via video call with Eytan Stibbe, Israel’s second astronaut and the first Israeli to ever make it to the International Space Station (ISS).

“This is the prayer for the peace of the nation that Rav Herzog wrote”

Stibbe’s arrival on the ISS was widely anticipated for the groundbreaking Rakia mission, which will see the 64-year-old astronaut undertake 35 different experiments in his short stay in orbit. 

"I slept very well," Stibbe said when asked about his first night in space.

Floating in the space station with the Israeli flag hung up behind him, the astronaut held up a glass cube engraved with the prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel written by Herzog's grandfather, Rav Isaac Halevy Herzog, the first chief rabbi of Israel.

 Israel's second-ever astronaut Eitan Stibbe is seen suited up ahead of the launch of the Rakia mission as part of Ax-1. (credit: Courtesy SpaceX) Israel's second-ever astronaut Eitan Stibbe is seen suited up ahead of the launch of the Rakia mission as part of Ax-1. (credit: Courtesy SpaceX)

He further showed off his zero-gravity environment by somersaulting in mid-air, to which he was met with a round of applause.

"We are seeing history with our own eyes," Herzog declared.

The joyous launch of Stibbe to the ISS comes amid the ongoing wave of terrorism that has beset Israel - something Herzog was keenly aware of and commented on.

"During these difficult times on the ground, this project [the Rakia mission], the exciting launch and experience that the whole House of Israel is watching, is a point of light in the sky. These are moments that fill us with inspiration and excitement," the president said.

Herzog noted the recent terrorist attack on Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Street and said that this was an opportunity to comfort the bereaved families and say that life will go on.

"We do not succumb to terrorism or anything else, not when it hits us on the streets of Tel Aviv or elsewhere in the country, and of course not when it strikes holy sites like Joseph's Tomb."