Columbia STS-107 crew:
Mission Specialist David Brown,
Commander Rick Husband,
Kalpana Chawla and
Pilot William McCool and
Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.
Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut on the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) that was launched on January 16, 2003. The seven astronauts died on February 1, 2003, when Columbia broke apart during reentry into the atmosphere over Texas on its way to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Role of Ilan Ramon in the Israeli Aviation History
By Dr. Israel Hanukoglu, Editor of the Israel Science and Technology Directory
In the history of mankind, explorers have always been considered as heroes to be remembered. In early history, this included the discoverers of new lands.
In the modern space age, Neil Armstrong became an unforgettable hero as the first man to step on a new land closest to Earth.
Similarly, for the nation of Israel, Ilan Ramon, left his imprint on modern history, as the first Israeli pioneer to reach the new frontier for mankind that is the Space as an astronaut in a spaceship - Space Shuttle Columbia.
Ilan Ramon opened this new trail to space carrying with him symbols of Jewish history and with the broadcast of prayers that have been uttered by our forefathers for many millennia. Thus, by the example he set, he established that our heritage will be continued in the voyage of mankind in our exploration of space.
As a second generation Holocaust survivor, Ilan Ramon carried with him also a copy of a Moon Landscape drawing by the 14-year-old Auschwitz victim Petr Ginz. The journey of this symbolic drawing of an Auschwitz victim in a spaceship is an allegoric representation of the rise of the People of Israel from the ashes of Holocaust crematoria like a phoenix.
Israeli aviation history is full of exceptional national heroes. Ilan Ramon Ramon was one of those heroes who participated as an F-16 pilot in the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor Tammuz 1 near Baghdad, and in many untold missions.
Ilan Ramon's symbolic actions bear unforgettable testimony that he understood his unique role in opening a new chapter in the history of our nation.