1954 - 2003

Ilan Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut. Ramon was killed on his first space mission, during the disastrous return of space shuttle Columbia, on February 1, 2003.

On January 16, 2003, at 10:39 AM, EST (17:39 local time), The citizens of Israel were thrilled watching the launch of space shuttle Columbia, live, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. In one of the most successful shuttle launches ever, the STS-107 mission, along with one Israeli astronaut, has made a whole nation proud, in a hard era of economical slowdown, political corruption, and unwanted early elections. It is undoubtable that Ilan Ramon was the most endorsed and loved person in Israel at that time. This feeling of pride and happiness would end only 16 days later in a great tragedy.

On December 11, 1995, US President Bill Clinton and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres announced that they had agreed "to proceed with space-based experiments in sustainable water use and environmental protection" and that, as a part of this effort, the United States "will also train Israeli astronauts to participate in these programs." It was also decided that the astronaut would be a payload specialist for an Israeli scientific experiment to be decided by the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) with the approval of NASA. The Israeli space program, led by the Israeli Space Agency, has already achieved great things, such as the launch of a homemade satellite, Ofek-5.


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 Center, Houston.

Ilan Ramon was Born om June 20, 1954 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Graduated from High School in 1972. In 1974, Ramon graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israeli 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. He was on the mission to bomb the Iraqi nuclear plant. From 1983-1987, he attended the Tel Aviv University, and was recieved with a bachelor of science degree in electronics and computer engineering.

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.

Colonel Ramon 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.


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