Israel’s second-ever astronaut, Eytan Stibbe, was successfully launched into space today as part of the groundbreaking ‘Rakia’ mission. He is set to become the first Israeli to land on the International Space Station (ISS), and has reportedly taken with him pieces of the diary of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut.
Eytan Stibbe is a former fighter pilot and will travel to the ISS onboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. It is the first-ever all-privately funded astronaut crew to successfully launch into space. The mission is operated by Axiom Space and commanded by its vice president, Spanish-American astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria.
Whilst on the ISS, Eytan Stibbe will perform 35 experiments for companies and research institutions with a focus on health, agriculture, optics and energy. He has taken the smallest bible in existence on the mission, etched on a silicone nano-chip. As part of the mission, Israel’s largest hospital, Sheba Medical Centre, has sent an entire miniature space lab that contains six experiments. One experiment will explore whether microgravity may help to treat Alzheimer’s.
Sheba’s Director-General Professor Yitshak Kreiss said that “this research mission fulfils a lifelong dream I have had to combine medicine and space, enabling us to expand the boundaries of health well beyond what is possible on Earth”.
The first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry in 2003 along with six other crew members.