Israeli President Herzog Tells Astronaut Set for Historic Mission, ‘the Whole Nation Is Watching You’
Israeli President Isaac Herzog met Thursday with Eytan Stibbe, who will soon become the second Israeli to travel into space, saying, “The whole nation is watching you.”
Stibbe follows in the footsteps of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died tragically in the accident that destroyed the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.
The Ramon Foundation, founded in Ilan Ramon’s name, is the co-sponsor of Stibbe’s upcoming Rakia Mission, along with the Israel Space Agency.
The Rakia Mission is intended to promote the Israeli aerospace industry, and will involve scientific experiments, educational activities in Hebrew, and a platform for works of Israeli art.
A government statement said that Herzog gave Stibbe a glass cube inscribed with a prayer for the well-being of the State of Israel in the handwriting of its author, Israel’s first chief rabbi Yitzhak Isaac HaLevi Herzog — President Herzog’s grandfather.
“The whole nation is watching you,” Herzog told Stibbe. “I want to wish you, from the bottom of my heart, success in your important space mission.”
“May you influence the whole of humanity for another hundred years,” he said. “May you continue to bring all of us, your nation, your country, and your family, great pride.”
“Fly in peace and return in peace,” Herzog added. “Look after yourself!”
Stibbe said, “As an Israeli who was born and raised and studied here, it is a great honor for me to meet the president and share with him details about the Rakia Mission.”
“The mission’s purpose is to arouse curiosity about our existence here on planet Earth and to allow Israelis to take part in a unique international project in a range of scientific, technological, and artistic fields with an emphasis on innovation and education,” he explained.
“I’ll take this prayer with me and as it says here, from the ‘edge of the heavens’ it will return here, to Israel, to the President’s Residence,” Stibbe said.