Eitan Stiva, a former fighter pilot, is expected to take off for a mission at the International Space Station at the end of 2021.
The 62-year-old is be the second Israeli to arrive in space, the President of the State, and the Ramon Foundation announced today (Monday) with the participation of the Minister of Science, Yizhar Shai, and the CEO of the Ramon Foundation Ran Livne.
Tal Ramon, the son of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed during his mission in space, took part in the press conference in Jerusalem at the President’s Residence where the announcement was made.
Ilan Ramon was killed on the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, along with the other six crew members. The Space Shuttle blew up just 16 minutes before they were due to land back on Earth. Stiva recalled that he was with the Ramon family during the launch of Columbia.
“This is a day of national joy and great pride,” said President Reuven Rivlin. “An Israeli pilot with a blue-and-white flag embroidered on his shoulder will prove once again, as we have been showing here for 72 years, that even the sky isn’t our limit.”
Rivlin turned to Stiva and congratulated him: “Up there, beyond the seventh heaven, you will perform a series of experiments in Israeli technologies, some of which were developed by Israeli boys and girls. You will be the messenger of those brilliant minds, present and future generations of fine Israeli research. You will be Israel’s representative in the human effort to understand the miraculous mechanism that enables life on this globe, and to crack the secrets of the universe.”
Stiva told the press conference: “As a child, on dark nights I looked up to the sky and wondered what there is beyond what I saw. It takes much depth and strength to be able to release ourselves from that which ties us down, to leave gravity.”
In the coming months, Stiva will begin his three months prior to concentrated training series in the United States, for space travel. The space shuttle is expected to be launched from Florida by the end of 2021.
Stiva will spend 200 hours at the station with two other private astronauts, from Germany and Russia. He will conduct a series of unprecedented experiments in Israeli scopes, technologies, and scientific developments by researchers and startups, and is expected to hold activities to make the space world accessible to Israeli children.
Col. Res., A former businessman and fighter pilot
Eitan Stiva is a colonel in the reserve and served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force for 43 years. He participated in dozens of military operations. After his release, he founded the Vital Capital Fund and has been involved for the past 35 years in developing business entrepreneurship and financing projects in developing countries, which provide a solution to vital infrastructure for underprivileged populations. He is also one of the founders of the Ramon Foundation and serves on the foundation’s board of directors.
At the announcement today, Stiva said: “In a year’s time I will have the opportunity to take part in a journey to the International Space Station. It is a fascinating journey into science, education and humanities research. The International Space Station is one of the largest collaborations in the world, where astronauts from many countries live, work and study together. A fraternity that we need so much, especially in these challenging days of dealing with the corona crisis. “
He added: “After the painful loss of Ilan and Assaf, we founded the ‘Ramon Foundation’ together with Rona and saw how space exploration stimulates all the senses, arouses curiosity and even challenges the wildest imagination. I hope that our joint journey into space will open new channels for cooperation, peace and faith. We can maintain our beautiful planet for the benefit of future generations. “
The international mission was initiated and led by Axiom Space. Upon arrival in space, the passengers will stay at the International Space Station subject to NASA approval.