Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
President Isaac Herzog presents astronaut Eytan Stibbe with the gift to take to the ISS. Dec. 16, 2021

President Isaac Herzog met on Thursday with Eytan Stibbe, the Israeli who will fly to the International Space Station in two months’ time with the Rakia Mission.

Herzog and Stibbe discussed the preparations for the Rakia Mission, which is being led in Israel by the Ramon Foundation and the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology.

The cube astronaut Eytan Stibbe is taking to the ISS.

Herzog gave Stibbe a special gift: a glass cube inscribed with the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel in the handwriting of its author, the President’s grandfather, Israel’s first chief rabbi, Yitzhak Isaac HaLevi Herzog.

The President wished. Stibbe great success ahead of his space mission and said that “the whole nation is watching you. May you influence the whole of humanity for another hundred years. May you continue to bring all of us, your nation, your country, and your family, great pride. Fly in peace and return in peace.”

Stibbe commented that “as an Israeli who was born and raised and studied here, it is a great honor for me to meet the President and share with him details about the Rakia Mission.”

“The mission’s purpose is to arouse curiosity about our existence here on Planet Earth and to allow Israelis to take part in a unique international project in a range of scientific, technological, and artistic fields with an emphasis on innovation and education,” he explained.

Of the gift, he said that he will take the prayer with him “and as it says here, from the ‘edge of the heavens’ it will return here, to Israel, to the President’s Residence.”

Stibbe, a former Israeli Air Force fighter pilot, is slated to take off in two months to the International Space Station as part of the Rakia Mission.

The purpose of the mission is “to advance and expand the Israeli aerospace industry.” During his 200 hours in Space, Stibbe will facilitate dozens of scientific experiments for Israeli companies, conduct educational activities for Israeli children in Hebrew, and give a platform to unique works of Israeli art.

The international mission was initiated and led by Axiom Space, an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Along with Stibbe, two more private astronauts will take part in the mission. Michael Lopez-Alegria will serve as mission commander. He has more than three decades of experience in the worlds of aerospace and has flown into space four times and commanded the 14th mission to the International Space Station.

Stibbe is considered Israel’s second astronaut.

Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon launched into space in 2003 but was killed on his journey back to earth when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into the atmosphere, the result of damage to the spacecraft.

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