A record number of 14 leaders of the world's most important space agencies will arrive in Israel
this month to mark the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and the death of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.
The officials confirmed their participation in the Seventh annual international Ilan Ramon Space Conference, initiated by the Israel Space Agency at the Science and Technology Ministry and the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, which will be held in Herzliya on January 29-30.
The conference will also be attended by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who knew Ramon and has been in touch with his widow, Rona, since the disaster.
"Ilan Ramon was a hero. We all cried when we found out about the disaster
which killed his son, Asaf," Bolden said in an interview to Yedioth Ahronoth in 2010.
"This year's conference has reached a very distinguished international level," says Rona Ramon. "It's gratifying seeing all the commemoration activities after 10 years."
According to Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency, "Our success in bringing 14 leaders of the world's top space agencies demonstrates the recognition in Israel's growing presence in the space field."