One of the unspoken opportunities that the idea of sending a crew of astronauts around the moon resides in international diplomacy. Truth to tell, large space projects have been international since the space shuttle program started flying non-American astronauts. President Ronald Reagan specifically invited the Europeans, Japan, and Canada as partners for what eventually become the International Space Stations. So it will be only natural if the Trump administration choses to fly one or more non-Americans on the Orion voyage around the moon. But from which countries?

The easy selection would be an astronaut from a European and an Asian country each to accompany two Americans on a four-person Orion mission.

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Such an arrangement would serve to cement America’s ties with traditional allies and provide a bit of excitement for the voyage in the countries from where the international astronauts hail.

Considering the Trump administration’s desire to cement ties with Russia, it would not be any surprise if a Russian cosmonaut would be included. Others, desirous of more space cooperation with China, would want a space explorer from that country to be added to the crew.

But an outside the box approach exists that could further the foreign policy goals of the United States as well as inflicting a psychological blow against Islamist terrorism. Why not fly an Israeli and an #Arab astronaut along with two #NASA American astronauts on the first voyage beyond low Earth orbit? Astronauts from Israel and the Arab world have already flown on the space shuttle on separate missions.

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Why not fly two together?

Israel already has a small space program and a team from that country is part of the final five in the quest for the Google Lunar XPrize. The United Arab Emirates is keen to transition from an oil based economy to a high tech one and has a space program focused on a mission to Mars to help in that regard. The U.A.E. also is interested in providing young people in the Arab world opportunities in STEM fields that will distract them from the lure of terrorism.

Israel and many Arab countries have already become tacit allies, united against a common enemy in Iran. Including an Israeli and an Arab astronaut on the greatest space mission since Apollo 17 would strengthen those ties and send a message to the #Middle East that peaceful cooperation is much to be preferred to armed conflict. Besides, it would drive terrorists and their enablers crazy, which to many would be a short trip indeed.