Israel Space Agency, NASA sign cooperation agreement


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Space Agency signed a cooperation agreement with its U.S. counterpart, NASA.

The heads of the two space agencies signed the deal on Tuesday at the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem. More than 2,000 people from 58 nations gathered for the five-day conference, which began Monday.

“You are known for your innovation and technology, and this agreement gives us the opportunity to cooperate with Israel on the journey to Mars as we open up new opportunities for all of our children,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the signing ceremony with the Israeli agency’s director, Menachem Kidron. “We have cooperated in the past, but this agreement is bigger and better.”

Under the agreement, NASA and the Israel Space Agency will participate in joint missions, exchange scientists and scientific data, and share training facilities.

NASA and Israel signed their first cooperation agreement in 1996, which led to the training in the United States of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, who flew on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Ramon and the flight’s six other astronauts died on Feb. 1, 2003, when Columbia broke apart during reentry into the atmosphere over Texas on its way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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