Israel State Archives Site Israel Museum, Jerusalem Site Blue on White
     
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Ilan Ramon  
 
 
Remains of Ilan Ramon's diary found in an open field in Texas two months after the explosion, April 2003
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2003 April
Photograph: © Volunteers from NASA search team
On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia exploded the moment it reentered the earth's atmosphere, causing the deaths of all seven crew members, including Colonel Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut. Two months later, in the course of a wide-scale search operation by NASA that covered an area of some 4,000 square kilometers, remnants of Ramon's diary were found in an open field, located somewhat ironically near the town of Palestine in Texas. Thirty-eight paper sheets somehow managed to survive the impact of the explosion and withstand the bitter cold, the free fall from an altitude of dozens of kilometers, and exposure on the ground over a period of weeks to sunlight, rain, and microorganisms. Using a special space pen, Ilan Ramon had written his thoughts and feelings in the course of his space journey on these pages. They were recovered and preserved during a lengthy restoration process at the Israel Museum's paper conservation laboratory. Ramon's weathered and faded handwriting was then deciphered at the documents laboratory of the Israel Police Division of Identification and Forensic Science. Two pages of the diary are on display here. On one of them, in his own handwriting, Ilan Ramon had copied the words to the Sabbath prayer or benediction known as the Kiddush, recited on Friday nights over wine.
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