This day in History: June 20, 1954- Ilan Ramon, an Israeli fighter pilot in the IDF and the first Israeli astronaut, was born. On February 1, 2003 , Ramon and six other Columbia's crew members were killed in the re-entry accident.
Shuttle Columbia STS-107 crew members posing for photo at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF). From the left are Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist; William C. McCool, Pilot; along with David M. Brown and Kalpana Chawla, both Mission Specialists (MS); Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander; Laurel B. Clark, MS; and Rick D. Husband, Mission Commander. NASA Identifier: JSC2001-02464.
Remembering Columbia - On February 1, 2003, during re-entry, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over northern Texas with all seven crewmembers aboard. On the bottom row (L to R) are astronauts Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Laurel B. Clark, mission specialist; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist. In the top row (L to R) are astronauts David M. Brown, mission specialist; William C. McCool, pilot; and Michael P. Anderson, payload commander.
Colonel Ilan Ramon was an Israeli Air Force combat pilot and the first Israeli astronaut to take part in a space mission, the fatal Space Shuttle Columbia mission. Colonel Ramon 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. Ramon's journey into space occurred as Israelis continued to suffer through a horrendous period of violence and helped lift the nation's spirits. Ramon was a national hero and a symbol of hope.