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Ramon, Ilan


RAMON, ILAN (1954–2003), colonel in the Israel air force, the first Israeli astronaut. Ramon was killed on board the U.S. space shuttle Columbia in its ill-fated 2003 mission. Ramon served in the idf as a combat pilot and was among those who participated in the bombardment of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. From 1983 to 1987 he studied computer science and electronic engineering at Tel Aviv University. From 1990 to 1992 he served as an f-16 squadron commander. Later, with rank of colonel, he served as head of the Department of Operational Requirements for Weapons Development and Acquisition. In 1995 Israel and the United States agree to send an Israeli astronaut into space, and Ramon was chosen in 1997 after a lengthy selection process. He and his alternate, Yiẓḥak Mayo, were sent with their families to the U.S. to start training at the nasa Space Agency. Four years later, in 2003, as the only payload specialist on board, he was part of the crew that lifted off on the Columbia shuttle mission. During the 16-day journey in space, he carried out a number of scientific experiments. During re-entry, a technical problem caused the Columbia to disintegrate, and all its crew members, including Ramon, lost their lives. After his death, asteroid 51828 was named after him.

[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]

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