Israel’s second-ever astronaut, Eytan Stibbe, said Thursday he will take a glass cube inscribed with a prayer for the welfare of Israel into space with him next year and then bring it back to President Isaac Herzog, who presented him with the item.
Herzog met Stibbe at the president’s official residence in Jerusalem, where the two discussed preparations for Stibbe’s mission to the International Space Station next year, according to a statement on behalf of the president.
Herzog gave the spaceman-to-be a gift of the cube inscribed with the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel in the handwriting of its author, the president’s grandfather Isaac Halevi Herzog, Israel’s first chief rabbi, the statement said.
“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.
Herzog wished Stibbe well, telling him “the whole nation is watching you” on his “important mission.”
“May you influence the whole of humanity for another hundred years,” Hergoz 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. Look after yourself!”
Stibbe said that the purpose of his flight to the station was to “arouse curiosity about our existence here on Planet Earth” and to allow Israelis to be part of an international project covering a range of scientific, technological, and artistic fields emphasizing innovation and education, the statement said.
Stibbe is already set to take with him another Jewish artifact, an ancient coin minted during the Bar Kochba revolt and uncovered recently in a Judean Desert cave.
The Ramon Foundation and the Science and Technology Ministry are sending Stibbe as part of Israel’s Rakia Mission, which will carry out 44 experiments at the International Space Station (ISS).
Commanded by Spanish-American astronaut and Axiom Space vice president Michael Lopez-Alegria, it will be the first fully private crew in history to live and work aboard the ISS, contingent upon crew approval by NASA and its international partners in the ISS.