Eytan Stibbe from Israel made history on Friday as he officially became the country’s second-ever astronaut to be sent into space.
Stibbe is one of the four astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle which carries the company’s first all-private mission to the International Space Station.
The 10-day mission, called Axiom-1, set off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Friday morning at 11:17 a.m. EST, after much preparation and multiple delays. It is expected to land at the ISS on Saturday, where the astronauts will conduct a total of 25 science experiments lasting a cumulative 100 hours.
Stibbe, 64, is an Israeli Air Force veteran who spent 43 years in the IDF as a fighter jet pilot and flight instructor before acting as advisor to Israel Aerospace Industries. He was a close friend of first Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died during the Columbia tragedy in 2003.
Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Stibbe will be leading Israel’s Rakia mission by Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry and the Ramon Foundation. Right before take-off, Stibbe said in Hebrew: “Good luck AX-1, good luck Rakia.”
Stibbe will conduct 35 different experiments during his stay in orbit. The experiments cover a wide variety of different fields of study, including testing or demonstrating the viability of certain technologies, observing scientific phenomena, studying mechanisms of theorized concepts and groundbreaking tests on food and agriculture.
Three of the four astronauts – including Stibbe – will wear a special helmet made by the Israeli startup Brain.Space as part of an experiment to study the impact of space on the human brain. The helmet has 460 airbrushes that connect to the scalp, and perform a number of tasks for 20 minutes a day. During activity, data will be uploaded to a laptop on the space station.
The mission’s commander is Axiom Space Vice President Michael Lopez-Alegria and the other astronauts include American entrepreneur and non-profit activist investor Larry Connor, the Ax-1 mission pilot, and Canadian researcher Mark Pathy, the Ax-1 mission specialist.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.