Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz and Minister of Science and Technology Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz have agreed on a huge rise in Israel's investment in space technologies. The Jewish state will invest 165 million shekels in the space program in the next two years – up from about 10 million shekels for the previous two year period.
The funding will go toward medium sized and small firms engaged in research and development of space technologies in which Israel enjoys a relative advantage. Some money will also go toward academic research and educational projects.
The investment follows a decision by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres two years ago, to appoint a team that would draw up a plan for making Israel a leading player in the world space market.
Israel is already one of nine countries that are able to place satellites in space orbit.
President Peres and Minister Hershkowitz both addressed the 7th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference held Sunday at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
The government approved on Sunday the appointment of Menachem Kidron, who has spent the last 40 years in a variety of research, development and administration roles at Rafael, to be the Manager of the Israeli Space Agency. He replaced Dr. Tzvi Kaplan.