Trying to Conquer Barriers to Further Space Exploration
“This conference commemorates the amazing life of Ilan Ramon by fostering cooperation among nations,” National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) head Charles Bolden told the hundreds of attendees, including many Israeli air force officers. “The word ‘shalom’ is not simply peace, but wholeness and completeness. Ilan and the whole crew brought us wholeness even though they are no longer here.”
Many of the attendees knew Ramon well, but for some the conference was even more personal. Dr.
He is working on safety equipment that will enable astronauts in trouble to eject more easily and to land more safely.
There have been some major successes since Ramon’s death. The International Space Station (ISS), a research laboratory, is up and running, and has been visited by astronauts from 15 countries.
“The ISS is our toehold to the rest of the solar system,” Bolden said. “It is a tangible symbol of unprecedented international cooperation.”
“When I was the head of the space program, my budget was very, very small,” Aby Har Even, who was in charge during Ramon’s time, told The Media Line. “Most of our achievements in space are in the defense area – I hope we can also make progress in the scientific area.”
But even with larger budgets, some scientists feel like they are hitting the wall in space exploration.
“We are just at the very, very beginning of any space exploration objectives because of the limits of what the technology can do and the challenges of applying it,” former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe told The Media Line. “We’re in the functional equivalent of the Age of Sail (when boats had no outside power source) right now in the space exploration business and we’re aspiring to the Age of Steam. We’re not there yet; it’s going to take the next technology leap to get us to that.”
O’Keefe believes that
“The entrepreneurial spirit of the Israeli people is so overwhelmingly strong,” he said. “You have honed the idea of using whatever you have to respond to the situation.”
The audience seemed primarily male, and several speakers stressed the need for more women in the space field.
“It is just the blink of an eye – just 50 years since the launch of Sputnik 1 and it is amazing how far we have come,” Lieutenant General Susan Helms, the commander of the 14th air force and a former astronaut who holds the record for the longest space walk at just under nine hours, told the conference. “We see