Colonel Ilan Ramon, Z"L.
Born June 20, 1954, in Tel Aviv.
Died February 1, 2003, over the skies of Texas.
Ilan Ramon is a Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist hero. He made History on January 16, 2003, when he became the first Israeli astronaut to fly in Space when he blasted off aboard the Space shuttle Columbia. Though there were Jewish astronauts before, he was the first one from Israel and therefore represented The Jewish People. Ironically, the first Jew in Space was Judith Resnick in 1984, and she was also killed while aboard the Space shuttle Challenger when it exploded during liftoff in 1986.
Ramon was a fighter pilot in The Israeli Air Force and served in The Yom Kippur War and Operation Peace for Galilee. He was among the pilots involved in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
Ramon recieved a bachelor of science degree in electronics and computer engineering from Tel Aviv University in 1987.
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 includes a multispectral camera for recording desert aerosol. In July, 1998, he reported for training at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Ramon lifted off into Space aboard the Space shuttle Columbia from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The son of a Holocaust survivor, he took a drawing into Space by a boy killed in The Holocaust depicting how The Earth might appear from The Moon. He also took up with him a miniature Torah scroll that survived The Holocaust and which was brought to Israel by a Holocaust survivor that became the Israeli scientist who initiated the main experiment Ramon carried out in Space. He also hung a mezuzah on one of the doors on board the Space shuttle, took a silver hand used for reading The Torah, proudly waved his kiddush cup used on Shabbat, and had a Book of Psalms in his bag. He was the first astronaut to request kosher food in Space and planned to be the first person to keep Shabbat in Space but a Florida rabbi said he was exempt from that because Shabbat only applies for Earth time. At every press conference he would proudly say, "I am an emissary of Zionism and The Jewish People.". When he circled over Jerusalem, he E-mailed President Moshe Katzav saying that he recited Shema Yisrael. His friends said that he was always inspired by the Zionist dream.
Tragically, on February 1, 2003, about 15 mintues before scheduled landing at Kennedy Space Center, the Space shuttle Columbia blew up over the skies of Texas killing Ramon and the other 6 astronauts on board. May his memory be blessed.
Here are some pictures having to do with Ilan Ramon.
This is his grave in Nahalal.
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