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Life Facts
Born:June 20, 1954
Tel Aviv, Israel
Died:Feb. 1, 2003
during re-entry of Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Agency:Israel Space Agency
Astronaut Class:N/A
Time in Space:15 days,
22 hours,
20 minutes
Education:1987, B.S., University of Tel Aviv, Israel
Military:Israel Air Force, Colonel
Ilan Ramon
Visit the Gallery to see photos of Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon and the STS-107 crew.
*STS-107 Tribute
Media Player - 28K / 56K
Real Video - 28K / 56K
*Flight Day 3
*Flight Day 5
*Flight Day 10
Wake-up Calls
*Flight Day 4 -"Hatishma Koli" by Hachalonot Hgvohim.
(4.7 MB) .wav file | Net Show | RealAudio
* Flight Day 8 - "Ma ata osheh kesheata kam baboker?" by Arik Einstein.
(6.4 MB) .wav file
| Net Show | RealAudio
*Flight Day 16 - "Shalom lach eretz nehederet" by Yehoram Gaon.
(8.1 MB) .wav file
| Net Show | RealAudio
Related Links
*A Letter to America from the Columbia Crew Families
*Ramon's Biography
*Ramon's Preflight Interview
*Ramon's STS-107 Menus
*STS-107 Science
*STS-107 Wake-up Calls
* STS-107 Ask the Crew Answers
Tree-Planting Ceremony
Tree-planting ceremony
Rona Ramon, the wife of Columbia Astronaut Ilan Ramon, participates in a tree-planting ceremony at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. Visit the Memorial Gallery for more images.
STS-107 Crew Memorial
Rick HusbandWilliam McCoolDavid BrownKalpana ChawlaMichael AndersonLaurel ClarkIlan Ramon

Ilan Ramon

When Israel Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon was asked what it was like to be selected as the first Israeli astronaut, he said that he feels like he is a representative of his home country.

" I think it's very, very peculiar to be the first Israeli up in space," he said. "Especially because of my background. But my background 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.

Ilan Ramon, STS-107 Interview

"And I was talking to a lot of, for instance, Holocaust survivors. And when you talk to these people who are pretty old today, and you tell them that you're going to be in space as an Israeli astronaut, they look at you as a dream that they could have never dreamed of. So, it's very exciting for me to be able to fulfill their dream that they wouldn't dare to dream. So, it is very exciting. Very exciting."

Ramon was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, in June 1954. He graduated from high school in 1972. He then joined the Israel Air Force. He fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air Force Flight School in 1974.

Over the next nine years, he gained experience in flying the A-4, F-16 and Mirage III-C aircraft, which included time training at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Then, he attended the University of Tel Aviv from 1983 to 1987, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering.

He then returned to flying for the air force. Ramon compiled more than 4,000 flight hours in Israeli military aircraft.

In 1997 he was selected to be an astronaut, and he reported to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 1998. He said that he and most Israelis never dreamed of becoming astronauts.

Ilan Ramon feature video

STS-107 was the first space flight for Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut. This feature video was produced before STS-107 launched on Jan. 16, 2003.

Video Format
#Netshow Video - 28K / 56K
#RealVideo - 28K / 56K

"Well, when I was a kid," Ramon said, " most of the people wouldn't dream of being an astronaut because it wasn't on the agenda. So I never thought I would've been an astronaut. I'm a pilot, a fighter pilot, in my background. And I love to fly! Flying aircrafts, fighter aircraft, is great. And I was very happy. I've never dreamed to be an astronaut. When I was selected, I really jumped almost to space."

Ramon trained until he made his first space flight in January 2003. He served as a payload specialist during STS-107 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. The STS-107 crew conducted more than 80 experiments during the scientific research mission.

While in orbit, he talked about the view of planet Earth and the need to take care of it. "The world looks marvelous from up here, so peaceful, so wonderful and so fragile," Ramon said. "The atmosphere is so thin and fragile, and I think all of us have to keep it clean and good. It saves our life and gives our life."

Ramon and his six crewmates perished on Feb. 1, 2003, over Texas as Columbia was re-entering Earth's atmosphere en-route to landing in Florida. Ramon spent 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space.

According to Astronaut Office Chief Kent Rominger, Ramon was a caring person and enjoyed his time in space and working with his crewmates. "He was also extremely caring," Rominger said. "From orbit, he sent an e-mail encouraging management, me and the other folks to immediately reassign this crew; that he could not imagine being part of or flying with any crew that was more deserving, more talented and more capable."

Ramon is survived by his wife and four children. Outside of his astronaut career, Ramon enjoyed snow skiing. And during a preflight interview, he said seeing the births of his children were among the most exciting moments in his life.

"Another very exciting and peculiar experience was to participate or take part, a small part, in all my four [children's] births," Ramon said. "I was supporting my wife during the births of all my four kids. And this is amazing to see a child born. This is the kind of exciting experience that I was in."

President George W. Bush spoke about Ramon's life and wish for peace during a memorial service on Feb. 4, 2003, at Johnson Space Center. "Ilan Ramon also flew above his home, the land of Israel," Bush said. "He said the quiet that envelops space makes the beauty even more powerful and 'I only hope that the quiet can one day spread to my country.'"

"Ilan was a patriot, the devoted son of a Holocaust survivor, served his country in two wars. Ilan," said his wife Rona, "left us at his peak moment, in his favorite place with people he loved."

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 12/03/2004
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