Second Israeli Astronaut Under Discussion, Says Netanyahu

Almost 11 years after tragic death or Ilan Ramon, Israel is preparing for the participation of an astronaut on a mission to the international space station.

A second Israeli astronaut will go into space within the next few years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Netanyahu's statement came in a recorded video published by the Israel Space Agency on the occasion of Israel Space week, which is currently underway. The video was reported by Walla website.

The agency also reported progress in Israel's contacts with international space agencies regarding the participation of an Israeli astronaut in a mission to the international space station.

Almost 11 years after the death of Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, in the Columbia tragedy, Netanyahu told how Ramon had taken a painting done by a Jewish boy in a concentration camp into space with him. "It's a drawing of the earth as seen from the moon," Netanyahu said. "Ilan represented our national story, from the ashes of the death camps to the astronaut who goes into the endless heavens."

Israel, Netanyahu said, is situated "deep in space" and that its space research "can be the engine that drives growth in a wide range of spheres: economic, defense, technology, science and agriculture."