Article - Ilan Ramonן
On January 16 2003 the Columbia Space Shuttle was launched into space from Florida, USA carrying 7 astronauts including the first Israeli astronaut, Israel Air Force fighter pilot, Colonel Ilan Ramon. 16 days,16 minutes before landing, the space shuttle exploded in the atmosphere, above the state of Texas, and all crew members were killed.
Ilan Ramon was born in 1954 in Ramat Gan, Israel. At the age of 8 he moved with his family to Beer-Sheva. He graduated in Electronics Engineering from the University of Tel Aviv. He was a fighter pilot in the Israel Air Force and served as Commander of the F-16 Squadron. As a young pilot he participated in the Israel air strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
During Columbia’s flight the 7 astronauts made 80 scientific experiments. One of these experiments was planned and prepared by Israeli school children for the research into the difference between the size of crystals on earth and their size in space. The Columbia crew also performed the Israeli “MEIDEX” experiment, prepared by scientists from the University of Tel Aviv, which investigated dust particles over the area of the Mediterranean and looked at “sprites”, a particular type of lightning that had yet to be researched. Results of the Israeli experiments were transmitted online to an Israeli team on the ground.
Ilan Ramon took with him to space a number of meaningful symbolic items including the President’s flag, IAF flag, the flag of Israel Space Agency (who were responsible for the project) and personal items such as a drawing of the moon by a young Jewish boy who was killed in the Holocaust. He also was given a Sefer Torah from Professor Yosef, a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp and one of the two principal investigators of the MEIDEX experiment.
During the 16 days of flight, proudly followed by the citizens of Israel and Jewish people worldwide, Colonel Ramon, in a live broadcast, described the symbolism of taking the Sefer Torah on board the shuttle. He explained that it was a symbol of rebirth of the Jewish people from the ashes of the Holocaust to the splendor of space. The picture of Colonel Ramon with the Sefer Torah hovering near him in the Columbia Space Shuttle will remain engraved on all our hearts.
Ilan Ramon was married to Rona and father of 4 children. He was 48 when he died.
The citizens of Israel, like millions of others around the world, bow their heads in memory of the 7 valiant astronauts who dedicated their lives to science.
Aby Har-Even, Director General, Israel Space Agency
Description of the Stamp:
The stamp shows portrait of Ilan Ramon in space suit; the view from the space shuttle of the area of Israel and the Sinai peninsula; map of the stars; Columbia Space Shuttle; Israel Space Agency (ISA) emblem; sunrise as seen from space; and flight symbol STS 107.
The selvedge of the stamp sheet shows satellite photograph of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea; the milky way; Columbia Space Shuttle; the Israeli and USA flags; starfield (photograph by “Hubble” telescope).
Photographs courtesy of NASA.