Col Ilan Ramon- Israel's First High-Tech Ambassador in Space

Col Ilan Ramon- Israel's First High-Tech Ambassador in Space



Ilan Ramon

Photos Courtesy NASA
Col. Ilan Ramon (1954-2003)

Israel's First High-Tech Ambassador in Space

On January 16, 2003, Israel's first astronaut - Air Force Col. Ilan Ramon - was launched into space in the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia. Shuttle STS-107 was a 16-day multi-discipline microgravity and earth science research mission conducted continuously during the 16 days on orbit.

Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated in the skies over Texas on Saturday, February 1, killing all seven crew members, including Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, just 16 minutes before its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space
Center in Florida.

Air Force honor guard carries the coffin of Israel's first astronaut Ilan Ramon during memorial service.
©2003 Reuters/Paul Hanna

NASA informed Israeli authorities on February 5 that the body of Col. Ilan Ramon had been positively identified and his remains were flown to Israel for burial.

A memorial service was held Monday afternoon (Feb 10) at an Israel Air Force base near Ben-Gurion Airport. Ilan Ramon was laid to rest in Nahalal with full military honors.

  • Remarks by President Katsav at State Memorial Ceremony - Feb 10, 2003
  • Remarks by PM Sharon at State Memorial Ceremony - Feb 10, 2003

    Col. Ilan Ramon is survived by his wife, Rona, their four children - Assaf (14), Tal (12), Yiftah (9) and Noa (5) - as well as his parents, Eliezer and Tova Wolferman, his brother Gadi and sister Kohava.

    The Israel Defense Forces has created a special e-mail address where the public may express its condolences to the Ramon family and to the people of the State of Israel on the loss of Col. Ilan Ramon in the Columbia Space Shuttle tragedy. The address is:

    Diary of an Astronaut
    The crew notebook of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon was recovered from the loss of the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ and was examined by the Questioned Documents Lab of the Division of Identification and Forensic Science of the Israel Police.
    Israel Police presentation

  • Israel Government Statement on Space Shuttle Columbia
  • Israel Cabinet Communique - Feb 2, 2003
  • The Columbia Space Shuttle Tragedy - IDF Spokesman
  • Light a candle in memory of Ilan Ramon
  • We Remember Ilan Ramon (JAFI website)
  • The Space Shuttle Children's Trust Fund
  • Israel Line: Special Edition - Feb 2, 2003
  • Jerusalem Post photos of the Columbia space shuttle mission
  • NASA updates on the Columbia mission and investigation

  • Col. Ilan Ramon, a former F-16 squadron commander and chief of weapons-system development acquisition for the Israeli air force, had been training at the Space Center in Houston, representing the Israel Space Agency, since 1998. His role this time, however, was purely scientific. His main responsibility in space was to use a multispectral camera to track dust particles from the sandstorms that blow from the Sahara over the Mediterranean and Middle East. The study - the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment, designed at Tel Aviv University - was intended to provide information on how dust affects rainfall.

    Jan. 26, 2003 - During Flight Day 11, STS-107 Commander Rick Husband narrates a downlinked video highlighting some crew activities. In this video, he talks about the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment, or MEIDEX, and shows views of the Middle East from orbit, including the Sinai Peninsula and Jerusalem.
    Video by NASA
  • Windows Media | Real Audio

    Jan. 21, 2003 - STS-107 crewmembers gather on Space Shuttle Columbia's flight deck to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other dignitaries in Jerusalem. The crewmember speaking Hebrew is Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut.
    Video by NASA

  • Windows Media | Real Audio

  • More NASA videos of Space Shuttle Columbia

    Listen to STS-107 crew wake up call for Red Team, Flight Day 4, dedicated to Ilan Ramon: "Hatishma Koli" ("Will you hear my voice") performed by Hachalonot Hagvohim. (NASA Real Audio file)

  • Ilan Ramon: "Personally I think it's very peculiar to be the first Israeli up in space. Especially because of my background, which is kind of a symbol of a lot of other Israelis' background. My mother is a Holocaust survivor. She was in Auschwitz. My father fought for the independence of Israel, not so long ago. I was born in Israel and I'm kind of the proof for them, and for the whole Israeli people, that whatever we fought for and we've been going through in the last century (or maybe in the last two thousand years), is becoming true."

    Col. Ramon sent the following e-mail message from the Columbia to Israeli Air Force Commander Dan Halutz:
    "It is a great privilege for me to be in the air force family for more than 30 years now and I am honored to represent all of you here in space, opening a new vision and way - air and space are one continuity and here we are - Space!"

    Prior to the launching into space, Ilan Ramon contacted Yad Vashem requesting a Holocaust related item to take with him on his launch into space on the shuttle Columbia. Yad Vashem chose "Moon Landscape", created by Petr Ginz, a 14-year-old Jewish boy, during his incarceration in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

    Ilan Ramon, whose first name means "tree," had written to the Jewish National Fund before the launching of Space Shuttle Columbia: "I would like to see at least 13 or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the launching." To fulfill this dream, the JNF is coordinating a global effort to plant trees throughout Israel and will establish a memorial in the American Independence Park in Jerusalem in memory of the seven astronauts who were aboard the space shuttle Columbia.

    Before the Columbia exploded, the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation had announced a new medal dedicated to the first Israeli astronaut. The medal will now be issued as a remembrance medal.

  • Pre-flight interview with Ilan Ramon (NASA)
  • Ilan Ramon's e-mail to President Moshe Katsav - Day 12 in space
  • Ramon's first combat mission: Iraq - Ha'aretz, Feb 4, 2003

    Ilan Ramon was born on June 20, 1954 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He graduated from high school in 1972.

    In 1974, he graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air Force (IAF) Flight School. From 1974-1976 he participated in A-4 Basic Training and Operations followed by Mirage III-C training and operations (1976-1980). In 1980, as one of the IAF's establishment team of the first F-16 Squadron in Israel, he attended the F-16 Training Course at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. From 1981-1983, he served as the Deputy Squadron Commander B, F-16 Squadron.

    From 1983-1987, Ramon attended the University of Tel Aviv, receiving a bachelor of science degree in electronics and computer engineering.

    From 1988-1990, he served as Deputy Squadron Commander A, F-4 Phantom Squadron. During 1990, he attended the Squadron Commanders Course. From 1990-1992, he served as Squadron Commander, F-16 Squadron. Colonel Ramon has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours on the A-4, Mirage III-C, and F-4, and over 1,000 flight hours on the F-16.

    From 1992-1994, he was Head of the Aircraft Branch in the Operations Requirement Department. In 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assigned as Head of the Department of Operational Requirement for Weapon Development and Acquisition. He stayed at this post until 1998.

    Special honors/awards: Yom Kippur War (1973); Operation Peace for Galilee (1982); F-16 1,000 Flight Hours (1992).

    In 1997, Colonel Ramon was selected as a Payload Specialist on a Space Shuttle mission with a payload that includes a multispectral camera for recording desert aerosol. He trained for this mission for four and a half years (from July 1998) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The mission was successfully launched on January 16, 2003, and crashed on re-entry on February 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts on board.

    Background of the Israeli space mission

    On December 11, 1995, US President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced that they had agreed "to proceed with space-based experiments in sustainable water use and environmental protection" and that, as a part of this effort, the United States "will also train Israeli astronauts to participate in these programs." It was also decided that the astronaut would be a payload specialist for an Israeli scientific experiment to be decided by the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) with the approval of NASA.

    The ISA-developed cooperative payload, entitled Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX), contained ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared array-detector cameras and was launched aboard the shuttle to obtain calibrated images of desert and transported pollution aerosols over land and sea. The experiment was designed to provide sound scientific information about atmospheric aerosols, as well as complementary data for NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) and Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) instruments.

    Israel Space Agency

    The Israel Space Agency, established in 1982, is a coordinating body, using consultants and subcontractors for devising and implementing its policy and programs.

    Although Israel is a very small country, both territorially and in population, it is highly advanced in science and technology and this is reflected in its activities and achievements in space. It has become a member of a highly exclusive "club" of countries who have designed, built and launched their own satellites.

    The Israel Space Agency and the Israeli industry and academia are involved in different stages of research, development or operations of a series of space and satellite programs, among the most well-known the Ofeq and Amos satellites.

    Press for print versionPrint version
    Send To Friend