According to Walla, the Israeli Space Agency has been in negotiations with its counterparts in other countries to send another Israeli astronaut to space. According to a source familiar with the negotiations, there have been contacts over this issue during the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing last September.
It’s been almost 11 years since Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was killed in the Clumbia space shuttle disaster, February, 2003.
Several issues may delay the second Israeli astronaut’s mission. For one thing, there’s the issue of booking a flight. Each vehicle being launched to the International Space Station has only three seats available, and the American, Russian, Chinese and European space agencies have purchased all the seats for the next two years.
Another delay might be caused by the selection process inside the Israeli airforce, picking the best candidate for a space flight. Also, once the best candidate is selected, he or she would have to undergo lengthy space training.
Finally, there’s the question of funding, meaning will the strapped Israeli budget be extended to buy a seat on the launch for a blue and white spaceman.
The negotiations over another Israeli mission to space have been conducted for a few years now, according to Walla. There have been talks with the Pentagon and with NASA, to the point where, a year ago, an Israeli defense ministry spokesperson said Israel was ready to add another astronaut to the international space program. but shortly thereafter the U.S. decided to limit the number of manned shuttles into space.
About a year ago, the International Astronautical Federation decided to award Israel the hosting of its 2015 conference, which, the Israeli space agency claims, positions Israel among the top 8 countries in the field of space explorations.