By GREER FAY CASHMAN
The president receives Russian cosmonauts MikhailKorniyenko, Alexei Leonov, Jewish-American astronaut Garret Reisman at Beit Hanassi.
President Shimon Peres on Wednesday met with Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who in 1965 was the first man to walk in space.
Accompanying Leonov was Mikhail Korniyenko, another Russian cosmonaut who has lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, and American-Jewish astronaut Garrett Reisman who met Peres during a visit to Israel in 2009 and has also lived and worked aboard the ISS.
All three are in Israel to participate in the Limmud FSU Beersheba conference taking place on May 26 and 27. Limmud founder Chaim Chessler and Minister Counselor at the Russian Embassy Anatoly Yurkov were also in attendance at the meeting.
Geared to Russian speakers, the Limmud conference, the fourth to be held in Israel, will focus on “Space, Science and Technology.”
The subject was chosen to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic first space flight by Soviet astronaut Yuri Gargarin.
Wearing some of his medals on his suit jacket, Air Force Maj-Gen. (ret.) Alexei Leonov, a fighter pilot and cosmonaut, is the sole survivor of the Soviet Union’s first five-member cosmonaut group, for which he was selected in 1960.
After a number of setbacks, Leonov finally stepped outside his spacecraft in March 1965 and went for a spacewalk lasting 12 minutes and 9 seconds.
Getting back inside was problematic, because his space suit had inflated to the point where it was too wide to re-enter the airlock. Leonov had no option but to cut a valve so that the pressure would subside and his suit would deflate.
A former NASA astronaut, Garrett Reisman now works for Space Exploration Technologies as a senior engineer working on astronaut safety and mission assurance.
He is experienced in working with both Russian and American equipment and while working together with Russian colleagues at the International Space Station, he even picked up a little Russian in the process.
Peres, who is one of Israel’s leading advocates for the advancement of science and technology, was extremely interested in space technology and how people are affected by living and walking in space.
He also broached one of his favorite subjects, nanotechnology, and commented that size no longer has any limits.