Ilan Ramon

Infobox Astronaut
dood =Ilan Ramon
אילן רמון

type =ISA Astronaut
nationality =Israeli
status =Deceased
date_birth =June 20, 1954
place_birth =Ramat Gan, Israel
date_death =death date and age|2003|2|1|1954|6|20
place_death =Over Texas
previous_occupation =Fighter pilot
rank =Colonel, Israeli Air Force
selection =1996 NASA Group
time =15d 22h 20m
mission =STS-107
insignia =|

Ilan Ramon (June 20 1954 - February 1 2003; _he. אילן רמון) was a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, and later the first Israeli astronaut. Ramon was the space shuttle payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of "Columbia", where he and six other crew members were killed in a re-entry accident over Southern Texas. Ramon is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Personal life

Ramon was born in Ramat Gan, Israel and grew up in Beersheba. His mother and grandmother are survivors of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Although a secular JewFact|date=January 2008, Ramon sought to follow Jewish observances while in orbit. In an interview he said, "I feel I am representing all Jews and all Israelis". He was the first spaceflight participant to request kosher food.

He also gathered rabbinic opinions from the local Chabad-Lubavitch representative Rabbi Zvi Konikov, about observing the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) while in space, since the period between sunrises in orbit is approximately 90 minutes. This later became famous by the words "Jerusalem we have a problem" (said in Rabbi Konikov's speech at the Kennedy Space Center Memorial for Columbia on February 7, 2003).

Aboard STS-107, Ramon carried a pencil sketch, "Moon Landscape", drawn by 14-year-old Petr Ginz, who died in Auschwitz. Ramon also took with him a microfiche copy of the Torah (from the Holocaust) given to him by Israeli president Moshe Katsav. Ramon asked the 1939 Club, a Holocaust survivor organization in Los Angeles, for a symbol of the Holocaust to take into outer space with him. A barbed wire Mezuzah by San Francisco Artist Aimee Golant was selected. Ramon also took with him a dollar of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

Ramon and the rest of the "Columbia" crew died over Texas in the Southern United States during entry into Earth's atmosphere, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing.

Ramon is survived by his wife Rona and their four children.

Miracle diary

Thirty-seven pages from the diary he was keeping while in orbit miraculously survived the crash and were returned to his widow; she has shared an excerpt with the Israeli public in a display at Jerusalem's Israel Museum. [cite news|url=|title=Astronaut's diary goes on display in Jerusalem|author=SHAWNA OHM|publisher=Associate Press |date=2008-10-3|accessdate=2008-10-04] Rona brought it to Israel Museum forensic experts. Curator Yigal Zalmona [ [, Photos] ] said the diary was partially restored in 1 year, and needed 4 more, for police scientists to decipher 80% of the text. Only 2 pages were displayed, 1 containing Ramon's notes, and the other is a copy of the Kiddush prayer. [ [, Astronaut's diary goes on display in Jerusalem] ] Yigal Zalmona stated: "The diary survived extreme heat in the explosion, extreme atmospheric cold, and then "was attacked by microorganisms and insects. It's almost a miracle that it survived — it's incredible. There is 'no rational explanation' for how it was recovered when most of the shuttle was not, he said." [ [, Astronaut's diary goes on display in Jerusalem] ] Ramon wrote on the last day of the journal: cquote|"Today was the first day that I felt that I am truly living in space. I have become a man who lives and works in space." Inscribed in black ink and pencil, it covered just the first 6 days of the 16-day mission. Miraculously, the papers remained white, not charred from the explosion, 37 miles above the Earth. [ [, Diary that survived shuttle blast goes on show] ]

Even with the shuttle destroyed, Ilan Ramon completed his mission.


Ramon graduated from high school in 1972. In 1987, he graduated with a B.Sc. in electronics and computer engineering from Tel-Aviv University, Israel.

Air Force career

Ramon was a Colonel ("Aluf Mishne") and fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, with thousands of hours flying experience. In 1980, he was in the first group of Israeli pilots to fly the newly purchased F-16s. In 1981, he took part in the bombing of Iraq's unfinished Osiraq nuclear reactor (Operation Opera); and was the youngest pilot in the bombing team.

In 1974, Ramon 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. 1976–1980 was spent in Mirage III-C training and operations. 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. After attending the University of Tel Aviv, he served as Deputy Squadron Commander A, F-4 Phantom Squadron (1988–1990). During 1990, he attended the Squadron Commanders Course. From 1990–1992, he served as Squadron Commander, F-16 Squadron. 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.

Colonel Ramon 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.

NASA experience

NASA on-ground trainings

In 1997, Colonel Ramon was selected as a Payload Specialist. He was designated to train as prime for a space shuttle mission with a payload that included a multispectral camera for recording desert aerosol (dust). In July 1998, he reported for training at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, where he trained until 2003. He flew aboard STS-107, logging 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space.

Space flight experience

STS-107 "Columbia" (January 16February 1, 2003). The 16-day flight was a dedicated science and research mission. Working 24 hours a day, in two alternating shifts, the crew successfully conducted approximately 80 experiments. The STS-107 mission ended abruptly when Space Shuttle "Columbia" was destroyed and its crew perished during re-entry, 16 minutes before scheduled landing.

Awards and honors

* Military decorations:
** Yom Kippur War (1973)
** Operation Peace of the Galilee (1982)
** F-16 1,000 Flight Hours (1992).
* Posthumously awarded:
** NASA Space Flight Medal
** NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal
** Congressional Space Medal of Honor (Ramon is currently the only non-U.S. citizen recipient)
** Chief Of Staff Medal of Appreciation


*Asteroid 51828 Ilanramon
*Ramon Hill, in Columbia Hills, Mars
*Ramon Hall, in the Columbia Village apartments, Florida Institute of Technology [ Florida Today - Florida Tech dedicates dorms to Columbia 7–October 29, 2003]
*Ilan Ramon youth physics center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel [ [ Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center - Loading ] ]
*Ramon Control Tower, Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel
*Ilan Ramon Elementary School, Netanya, Israel
*Ilan Ramon Boulevard [ [ UJA Foundation: Lag B’omer festival] ] [ [ UJA Foundation] ] , Vaughan, Ontario
*Ramon Park, Givat Shmuel, Israel
*Ilan Ramon Park, space-themed playground in Beersheba, Israel
*Ilan Ramon AZA #380 in Boulder, CO & Ilan Ramon BBYO #5378 in Oviedo, FL


* [ Official biography at NASA]
* [ Ilan Ramon & Chabad Rabbi Zvi Konikov]
* [ Ilan Ramon STS-107 Crew Memorial]
* [ A collection of articles about Ilan Ramon] at
* "Journey of Hope: The Story of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s First Astronaut" Alan D. Abbey

ee also

* Space science
* Space Shuttle Columbia disaster
*"" - a documentary that focuses on Ilan Ramon

External links

* [ Portrait painting of The First Israeli Astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon]
* [ Ilan Ramon Memorial pages in Israel Science and Technology Directory]
* [ Spacefacts biography of Ilan Ramon]
* [ Ilan Ramon's Diary]
* [ Ilan Ramon - Obituary and public tribute]

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