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44 Israeli experiments to join Israel’s next astronaut to space

CM 05/05/2021

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The sky isn’t the limit for 44 Israeli research projects that are going to be carried out in outer space by Eytan Stibbe as part of the Rakia mission at the beginning of 2022.
Stibbe is set to be Israel’s second astronaut to be sent to outer space in a mission to the International Space Station, led by the Science and Technology Ministry and the Ramon Foundation. Stibbe is funding the $50 million cost of his participation on the Ax-1 mission himself on what will be the first fully private crew in history to live and work aboard the ISS, run by the American company Axiom Space.
While in space for 10 days, Stibbe will run a series of experiments created by Israeli start-ups, universities, and hospitals. Most of the experiments are not for space-related technologies, but will test conditions in space that may lead to technological, scientific and medical breakthroughs that will influence human life on earth – and perhaps beyond.
The goal of the mission is to inspire people to challenge their natural boundaries, as well as help develop and promote Israeli technologies, Stibbe told The Jerusalem Post.
“As the mission gets closer, I’m getting more and more excited as I see the attraction to the mission of not only scientists and adults, but also kids and young scientists,” he said. “I hope it will be as widespread as possible, not only for people interested in science and mathematics and engineering, but also to those in the humanities, psychology, the arts, philosophy, and anyone inspired by the notion of space and being able to step outside and look at ourselves from another perspective.”
The projects that were chosen, which were revealed Wednesday at a ceremony at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv, span a wide breadth of disciplines, with about 60% of the projects coming from university researchers.
In one experiment, an innovative lithium-ion battery will be tested under microgravity conditions in the hope of perfecting a process that may lead to rapid charging of the batteries found in most electrical and electronic devices.

Another experiment, initiated by the oncology department at Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel, will attempt to characterize leukemia cells under microgravity conditions in both the presence and the absence of chemotherapy, comparing the findings to similar experiments on earth.
A third experiment, designed by researchers from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in collaboration with researchers at NASA, will investigate the possibility of producing high-quality optic lenses while in space. This could help scientists position large telescopes in space, greatly increasing the range of space exploration.
“The large number of experiments positions Rakia as the most significant private-manned mission in history,” said Ran Livne, CEO of the Ramon Foundation and head of the Rakia mission. “Just last week, we met with senior SpaceX and NASA officials who were astonished by the large number and wide range of experiments Eytan is going to carry out in space. We believe in Israeli science and technology, and we anticipate scientific discoveries that will impact human life on earth and in space. We are now working with the Science and Technology Ministry to help the chosen experiments to raise money to prepare, test and pack them – and then send them into space.”
In December, the Ramon Foundation issued a call for proposals for experiments to be carried out on the ISS. The experiments were selected by a committee headed by Inbal Kreiss, a top expert in the Israeli space industry and head of Innovation Systems Missiles & Space Division at Israel Aerospace Industries.
The experiments will be sent to the ISS, conditional on raising funds to cover their cost, compliance with the mission’s timetable and obtaining NASA’s approval. Some 20%-30% may not be ultimately accepted. The Israel Space Agency in the Science and Technology Ministry will issue a call for assistance in fundraising once the state’s budget has been approved. The Ramon Foundation also will help find alternative sources of funding.
Stibbe, 63, is a former Israeli fighter pilot and businessman. In the 1982 Lebanon War, he gained IDF recognition when he shot down four enemy aircraft during a single sortie. As an entrepreneur, Stibbe has more than 30 years of experience developing infrastructure projects in Africa and making impact investments in developing markets.
Stibbe’s commander in the IAF was Ilan Ramon, who in 2003 became the first-ever Israeli to fly in space. Tragically, Ramon was killed when his Columbia mission was destroyed upon reentering earth after the historic NASA flight. The Ramon Foundation, founded in his honor, is leading Stibbe’s space trip, which Stibbe dedicated to the memory of his former commander.
The mission title, “Rakia,” is a Hebrew word for heaven, and was the title of the book published with the fragments of Ramon’s diary, which was excavated from the crash.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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