by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
on the Arrival of Ilan Ramon's Coffin
February 10, 2003
Ilan's brother Gady,
Rona, Assaf, Tal, Yiftah and Noa,
Allow me, on behalf of the people of Israel, here
and in the Diaspora, to honor the memory of Ilan Ramon,
in love and pain, on this, his last road in our homeland.
all the memorial services, your mourning is first
of all personal and private. You have just returned
to us, with Ilan's coffin, and are suffering pain
which cannot be healed. This is not how you imagined
- how we all imagined - your homecoming.
pain you suffer is the pain we all suffer. Ilan has
touched the hidden spot in every Jew's heart. He tugged
at the strings of all our hearts.
youthful face, his eternal smile, his fresh countenance,
the twinkle in his eyes - penetrated our souls. His
image, projected from above, was the reflection of
Israel at its best - Israel as we would have liked
to see it - the Israel we love.
Torah Scroll brought by a Jewish boy from a concentration
camp, the Kiddush Cup, the Israeli flag, and the Israel
Airforce badge touched and excited all Jews. They
constituted a source of pride and united our hearts
in these trying times.
up there - at the edge of the scope of human achievement
- we could not have had a better and more fitting
the son of a mother who survived the Holocaust, and
a father who is a veteran of the War of Independence,
was a courageous combat pilot and an outstanding officer,
and was among the best of our sons and warriors.
his last mission he soared higher than any other Israeli,
and realized his dream.
his journey into space in the American Shuttle, with
his six shipmates, he brought great honor to the people
Star of David, the "blue and white" of our
flag, were interwoven with the American Stars and
Stripes, and the common fate of the team poignantly
strengthened the staunch partnership between our nations.
this moment our hearts also go out to the families
of the other victims, and to the American people,
in brotherhood and sincere condolences.
day will come when other Israelis will be launched
into space in the service of science and progress.
For them and for us Ilan Ramon will always be a source
of inspiration, as Israel's space pioneer, and his
memory will be engraved in our hearts forever.
when he is brought to rest in the earth of the Valley,
we will remember that Ilan was plucked in his prime,
at the zenith of his aspirations, and at a time when
he acquired world fame.
this will be a source of comfort to his grieving family,
his loved ones, and all of Israel.
January 16......As the eyes of most Israelis were glued to TV sets,
with a thunderous and colorful roar, the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia
lifted off from Cape Canaveral today carrying Israel's first astronaut.
Israel Air Force fighter pilot Col. Ilan Ramon set off for Earth
orbit at 5:39 p.m. Israel time. Ramon has been assigned as a Payload
Specialist for this mission.
Ramon had been
selected by the IDF, the Israel Space Agency and NASA back in 1997
for this mission. The STS-107 flight mission was delayed a few times
for technical problems, but on a beautiful, sun drenched day with
combat aircraft circling the Space Center to ensure security, it
was a perfect liftoff.
Ilan's wife, Rona, and their four children watched from NASA's Launch
Control Center, about five kilometers from the launch pad. Ramon
had invited 300 family members and VIPs to watch this historic launch
from another site nearby.
so moving, so touching," Ambassador Danny Ayalon said. "I
was thinking the skies were colored blue and white our national
colors. We had deep, beautiful blue skies and with this smoke [from
the rocket boosters] coming out, it was very, very moving."
was safely settled in orbit, Mission Control radioed up "a
big welcome to Ilan as you join the international community of human
Earlier in the
morning, Ramon and his six crewmates rode to the pad under heavy
police escort. A space center worker waved an Israeli flag as the
"astrovan" passed in front of the launch control center.
Despite the presence of a large SWAT team, the entire shuttle crew
looked relaxed. Ramon waved and gave a thumbs-up.
For the next
two weeks, the crew will perform science around-the-clock. Technically,
Ramon is considered an add-on passenger. But unlike most payload
specialists, he will be participating in all of the experiments,
because of the mission's heavy workload.
were assigned to the flight, I started looking at the payloads,
and it became obvious Ilan would have to be fully integrated with
the crew," payload commander Mike Anderson explained. "Usually
a payload specialist specializes in one payload, but we couldn't
have that luxury on this flight. So Ilan is fully trained in all
the payloads. He's going to everything that the other astronauts
on the flight are doing."
The time line
for a shuttle mission is dependent on when it launches, and nobody
can tell ahead of time whether or not there will be launch delays.
On long shuttle flights, each crew member gets two half days off.
Ramon's time off will be Wednesday, January 22 and and Tuesday,
The period after
launch was extremely busy. First Ramon, Anderson, and Laurel Clark
reconfigured the crew cabin. They folded and stored the chairs the
crew used for launch and landing, and stored the bright orange launch
and entry suits. Then two hours were spent activating the Spacehab
module, in which most of the experiments will be performed.
describes himself as a secular Jew but said he would try to observe
the Sabbath while in space if it did not interfere with his duties.
That raised the question of when the day of observance, normally
from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, occurred in earth orbit,
since the shuttle circles the planet every 90 minutes. The astronaut
consulted a group of rabbis, who developed a consensus that the
day should be observed on the basis of times at his launching point,
first meal in space he's selected kosher chicken and noodles, green
beans with mushrooms, crackers, strawberries, trail mix, a brownie,
and orange juice. Most food in space is similar to camping food
precooked, freeze-dried servings. The astronaut injects several
ounces of cold or hot water, waits a couple of minutes, then cuts
the package open with scissors. Ramon's kosher chicken products
are off-the-shelf. All he has to do is heat them in the oven and
cut open the package. Most of the snack foods are standard.
After the meal
half of the crew pilot Willie McCool, Anderson, and Dave Brown went
to sleep, while Ramon, commander Rick Husband, and astronauts Clark
and Kalpana Chawla continued to set up the shuttle for its two weeks
Ramon set up a slightly modified notebook computer for use with
the MEIDEX experiment, sponsored by the Israel Space Agency.
The crew will
use that computer to send commands to move the cameras that will
measure desert dust in the atmosphere to gauge its effect on climate
change back and forth and operate the experiment's video recorders.
Then Ramon started
his first science for the mission, a breathing experiment in which
he pedaled a bicycle while breathing in and out of a tube. His breath
was collected for scientists to analyze after the mission. Next
Ramon set up the equipment which will be used for blood collections
throughout the flight, and spit out a sample of saliva, which was
placed into a 28-liter freezer. By the end of the mission, the freezer
will be filled with saliva, blood, and urine samples from the crew.
an extremely long day Ramon got to prepare for sleep. The astronauts
who went to sleep after launch were awakened, and Ramon's shift
briefed them on what it had accomplished and any problems encountered.
Ramon was scheduled to climb into his sleeping bunk at 4:39 a.m.
on Friday, Israel time, and get up at 12:39 p.m. for his second
day in space.
Ariel Sharon spoke to Ramon on Wednesday. "I am very proud
of the first Israeli astronaut. Congratulations to you and the whole
crew,"Sharon said. "I wish you well and that you enjoy
yourself and all return safely."
Katsav sent a microfiche of the Bible the size of a credit card
to Ramon to carry on his journey, Beit Hanassi said Tuesday.
Ramon is a soft-spoken
man conscious of the importance of symbols and history, and the
role he plays in both.
"I have something else that is very meaningful,"Ramon
replied, "something symbolic and exciting that I'll show you
from space." "It's a great privilege to represent the
State of Israel,"Ramon added. "It's a great honor for
Ramon said earlier
that he would take Jewish symbols or ritual objects with him that
correspond to the timing of his particular mission.
to carry special things and try to express something about the unity
of the Israeli people and the Jewish community. I have some ideas,"Ramon
said, "but for the time being, I will keep them deep inside
of me. It will be a surprise."
One of the items
Ramon is carrying into space is a pencil drawing entitled "Moon
Landscape." Created by a 14-year-old boy named Peter Ginz,
it shows how Earth might look if you were on the Moon and looking
back at our home world. What makes the drawing so important to Ramon
is that it was created while Ginz was in a Nazi concentration camp,
before the boy died in 1944.
Ramon, 48, is
the son of Holocaust survivors.
my flight is very symbolic for the people of Israel, especially
the survivors, the Holocaust survivors,"said Ramon. "Because
I was born in Israel, many people will see this as a dream that
is come true."
The Israel Defense
Forces congratulated Colonel Ilan Ramon on a successful space launch.
A statement from the IDF Spokesperson's Office read: The Israel
Defense Force's commanders and soldiers congratulate Colonel Ilan
Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut on his successful launch into
space as a team member of the Colombia Space Shuttle. Col.
Ilan Ramon's historic flight serves as a special occasion of great
significance that highlights the warm friendship of the United States
and Israel. The Colombia Space Shuttle mission is an illustration
of yet another facet of the international cooperation in complex
research expanding human knowledge.
IDF congratulates you and wishes you "a safe return home".
remains of an Israeli Air Force flag, for which Ramon
carried into space, was found among debris in Texas
sent the following e-mail message 24 hours before the tragedy
from the Columbia to Israeli Air Force Commander Dan Halutz:
"It is a great privilege for me to be in the air
force family for more than 30 years now and I am honored to
represent all of you here in space, opening a new vision and
way - air and space are one continuity and here we are - Space!"
is the first Israeli astronaut, there have been six previous astronauts
from Jewish households Judy Resnik, Jeff Hoffman, Ellen Baker, Jay
Apt, David Wolf, and Scott Horowitz. All have doctorates; Baker
and Wolf are physicians. Horowitz was the first Jew to command a
space mission. Israel is the 29th country to have one of its citizens
Ilan Ramon (Colonel, Israel Air Force)
DATA: Born June 20,1954 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Married to Rona.
They have four children. He enjoys snow skiing, squash. His parents
reside in Beer Sheva, Israel.
Graduated from High School in 1972; bachelor of science degree in
electronics and computer engineering from the University of Tel
Aviv, Israel, in 1987.
Yom Kippur War (1973); Operation Peace for Galilee (1982); F-16
1,000 Flight Hours (1992).
In 1974, Ramon graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air
Force (IAF) Flight School. From 1974-1976 he participated in A-4
Basic Training and Operations. 1976-1980 was spent in Mirage III-C
training and operations. In 1980, as one of the IAF's establishment
team of the first F-16 Squadron in Israel, he attended the F-16
Training Course at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. From 1981-1983, he
served as the Deputy Squadron Commander B, F-16 Squadron. From 1983-1987,
he attended the University of Tel Aviv. From 1988-1990, he served
as Deputy Squadron Commander A, F-4 Phantom Squadron. During 1990,
he attended the Squadron Commanders Course. From 1990-1992, he served
as Squadron Commander, F-16 Squadron. From 1992-1994, he was Head
of the Aircraft Branch in the Operations Requirement Department.
In 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assigned as
Head of the Department of Operational Requirement for Weapon Development
and Acquisition. He stayed at this post until 1998.
has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours on the A-4, Mirage III-C,
and F-4, and over 1,000 flight hours on the F-16.
In 1997, Colonel Ramon was selected as a Payload Specialist. He
is 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 the Johnson Space
He is currently assigned to STS-107 scheduled to launch in 2003.
February 5 .....The
space shuttle Columbia disintegrated in the skies over Texas on
Saturday, February 1, killing all seven crew members, including
Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, just 16 minutes before its scheduled
landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon have been found among the wreckage
of the space shuttle Columbia and will be brought to Israel for
burial, the Israeli army said Wednesday.
informed representatives of the Israeli army that the body of Ramon
had been identified, the army said in a statement. The remains will
be brought to Israel for a funeral in the coming days.
a relief to all of us, especially the family," said Brig. Gen.
Rani Falk, an Israeli air force attache in Washington. "NASA
informed us officially that Ilan Ramon, may his name be blessed,
was identified, and we can bring him for burial in Israel in the
Colonel, Hero, Husband and Father Ilan Ramon Comes Home
was one of four sets of remains that have been positively identified,
Israel Radio reported. The DNA and jaw bone of Ramon's body were
checked to ensure that they were indeed his, the radio said.
Israel had sent
four ultra-Orthodox specialists to aide NASA in searching for the
remains of the astronauts, which were scattered near the Texas-Louisiana
state line. According to Jewish law, all parts of a Jewish person
must be buried. If the body is not found, a funeral is not possible.
On Sunday, NASA
officials said there were at least three reports of body parts found
in rural areas. Remains reportedly discovered in Texas include a
skull, a torso, a thigh bone and a leg.
More human remains
were found Tuesday, and a resident of Vernon Parish, La., found
fabric bearing a blue Star of David on a silver background, according
to the local sheriff. Israeli newspapers reported Wednesday that
the cloth was from an Israeli air force flag that Ramon had taken
The chief IDF
chaplain, Brig. Gen. Yisrael Weiss, says that further astronauts'
remains were recovered early today and that DNA tests are to determine
whether any belong to Ilan Ramon.
in an interview shortly after NASA officials confirmed that Ramon's
remains had been recovered among wreckage of the Columbia in the
The rabbi also
confirmed that the remains were indeed those of the Israeli astronaut.
Ramon would be brought for a full military burial in Israel, but
that a date has not yet been set due to the findings of additional
remains some of which may also belong to Ramon.
as of this morning that other remains have been found, we don't
know whose they are. They have been sent for DNA exam and we shall
know in another two days," Weiss said on Army Radio.
Weiss said that
while he didn't want to use the word joy, "I certainly want
to express tremendous satisfaction that Ilan Ramon is to brought
at the Israeli air force flag found along with Ramon's remains,
Weiss said: "Fills me with such a deep Jewish and Israeli
message. For me it is as though Ilan Ramon lives on as a representative
of the Jewish people."
wasn't a religious Jew, the fact that he brought a Torah scroll
into space and ate Kosher food on the shuttle, "sent a tremendous
message to all of us, particularly in these times," when Israelis
are so fragmented between the Orthodox and the secular, Weiss said.
As far as Halacha
is concerned, Ramon can be buried as long as the smallest remains
are found, but the family may want to wait to see if more are recovered,
Weiss added. He said the US authorities also had some technical
details to take care of before releasing the remains.
A Last "Thumbs-Ups"
- Col. Ilan Ramon An Eternal Inspiration to Every Israeli and to the World Jewish
Ramon is survived by his wife, Rona, their four children - Assaf
(14), Tal (12), Yiftah (9) and Noa (5) - as well as his parents,
Eliezer and Tova Wolferman, brother and sister.