Mitzpe Ramon: Israel’s gateway to the final frontier

Mitzpe Ramon, a small town in the Negev desert, is not only known for its stunning views of the Ramon Crater, but also for its resemblance to the surface of Mars. This unique feature has made it an ideal location for space exploration and research, attracting both local and international interest.

Recently, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) opened a new innovation hub in the town, aiming to foster the development of the local community and the space industry. The hub, which is equipped with offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, and a rooftop, provides a modern and creative work environment for entrepreneurs, startups, and students.

One of the first tenants of the hub is Creation Space, an Israeli company that specializes in space technologies and artificial intelligence. Creation Space has been involved in Mitzpe Ramon for seven years, running the D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station) project, which simulates a Mars mission and conducts experiments in the desert. The company has recently secured $1 million from CreationsVC, an American investment fund that focuses on space and AI.

Roy Naor, the CEO of Creation Space, said that the hub is a great opportunity for his company and for the town. He said that he hopes to turn Mitzpe Ramon into Israel’s official space town, and to attract more companies and investors to the area. He also thanked JNF-USA for supporting the hub and the local community.

Hub offers relief and opportunity for evacuees from Gaza border

The hub has also been a welcome addition for the nearly 3,000 evacuees from the Gaza border, who have been living in Mitzpe Ramon since October 7, when the Israeli government declared a state of emergency in the area due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas. The evacuees, who have been forced to leave their homes and businesses, have found a temporary refuge and a source of income in the hub, which allows them to work remotely and stay connected.

Oren Hefetz, the Business Development Director for JNF-USA in Israel, said that the hub has been a lifeline for many evacuees, who have been able to maintain their livelihoods and their sanity despite the difficult situation. He said that the hub has also created a sense of community and solidarity among the evacuees and the locals, who have been hosting and helping them.

Hefetz added that the hub is part of JNF-USA’s efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief to the displaced Israelis, as well as to promote the development and growth of the Negev region. He said that the hub is a game-changer for Mitzpe Ramon, which has a lot of potential and enthusiasm, but also faces challenges due to its remote location and lack of resources.

Hub aims to inspire and educate the next generation of space enthusiasts

The hub is not only a place for business and innovation, but also for education and inspiration. The hub hosts various programs and activities for students and young people, who are interested in learning more about space and technology. The hub also collaborates with local schools and organizations, such as the Ramon Foundation, which was established in memory of Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, and his son, Asaf, who both died in tragic accidents.

One of the programs that the hub offers is the SpaceIL Academy, which is a partnership between JNF-USA and SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit organization that launched the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon in 2019. The program aims to inspire and empower students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and to develop their skills and creativity.

The program consists of online and offline sessions, where students learn about various topics related to space, such as astronomy, physics, engineering, and robotics. The students also work on projects and challenges, such as building rockets, satellites, and rovers, and participate in competitions and events. The program is led by mentors and experts from SpaceIL and other space-related organizations and companies.

The program has been very popular and successful, with more than 1,000 students from Mitzpe Ramon and other towns in the Negev participating. The program has also received positive feedback from the students, who said that they enjoyed the program and learned a lot from it. Some of the students even said that they want to become astronauts or space engineers in the future.

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