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"Space ambassador in Israel": Rona Ramon died of a serious illness at the age of 54

The CEO of the Ramon Foundation Association, Ran Levana wrote today: Rona was the founder and president of the Ramon Foundation Association. She initiated and was a partner in dozens of educational and social projects in collaboration with government ministries and local authorities. Projects that affected tens of thousands every year." * The nickname "space ambassador in Israel" was coined by the former head of NASA, Charles Bolden

Rona Ramon at the space conference in Herzliya on the 13th anniversary of Ilan Ramon's death in the Columbia disaster - in collaboration with the Fisher Institute and the Ministry of Science. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
Rona Ramon at the space conference in Herzliya on the 13th anniversary of Ilan Ramon's death in the Columbia disaster - in collaboration with the Fisher Institute and the Ministry of Science. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

Rona Ramon, the wife of the late astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, who died in the Columbia shuttle disaster in February 2003, and the mother of Assaf Ramon, an Air Force pilot who was killed in the crash of his plane on a training flight, died this morning (Tuesday) from cancer.

Ran Levana, CEO of the Ramon Foundation, published a statement today: "With great sorrow and sadness that cannot be quantified in words, we are forced to announce the passing of Rona Ramon, who passed away peacefully today at her home surrounded by her family and close friends."
"Rona passed away after a long struggle with a serious illness. Dear Rona was the mother of Tal, Yiftah, Naa And Captain Assaf Ramon who was a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, the widow of Major General Ilan Ramon - the first Israeli astronaut."
"Rona never stopped her efforts to positively influence Israeli society and be significant for those around her. She was an inspiring woman who left us knowing that her, her son's and her husband's legacy will remain present in the broad educational work she was involved in.

Rona was the founder and president of the Keren Ramon association. She initiated and was a partner in dozens of educational and social projects in collaboration with government ministries and local authorities. Projects that affected tens of thousands every year."
"We already miss her embracing presence" concluded Livna.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and the Israel Space Agency bow their heads for the untimely passing of Rona Ramon, who was a fellow traveler, the ambassador of space education in Israel, a noble, brave and inspiring woman.

The director general of the Ministry of Science and chairman of the government's Ramon Foundation Ran Bar, who knew and worked closely with Rona over the past decade, paid tribute to her: "You were a friend, an inspiration, a role model, a partner in the dream and the journey. A deep friendship that began with Ilan's tragedy, and grew into an exciting project of the governmental Ramon Foundation. The government foundation that we established together with your vision and initiative and in light of Ilan's legacy, promoted educational projects in the field of space that touched thousands of children, supported research that promoted the field of space in Israel and assisted in the training of the younger generation in space. Your legacy and contribution to scientific education will resonate for many years to come, and the young generation you raised and nurtured in the field of space in Israel will continue your vision. we will miss Our hearts go out to the family."

"NASA is involved in education as a matter of course"

The choice to establish a foundation that would deal with education and bringing the youth closer to space was not accidental. Rona sought to find solace in the spiritual legacy of Ilan Ramon, part of whose mission was educational, and it was planned that he would speak in schools across the country about his experiences in space in order to attract youth to science and engineering professions in general and space in particular. He didn't get it, and Rona Ramon made space education her life's work.

"Space Ambassador in Israel", This is how former NASA head Charles Bolden defined it, at the Ilan Ramon Space Conference in 2016. Indeed, this was an accurate definition. A few years after the Columbia disaster, she returned to Israel with her four children, and through her the connection with NASA was established. Since then, more and more people from NASA, including active and former astronauts and high-ranking officials, have come every year to the Ilan Ramon Space Conference, which is held as part of a whole week of events, and many visits by astronauts to schools. The foundation she started - the Ramon Foundation, deals with education in the field of space, and has established space centers in many schools in all sectors. "I was privileged to pass by good people, but there are some who walked hand in hand with me in complete faith to bring the rightful place of honor to the whole issue called space in Israel." she said in her speech at the same conference.

A few months later, she spoke at the opening of the session of the International Space University hosted by the Technion, and with the help of the Ramon Foundation scholarships, many Israeli students were accepted.

I'm sure you'll have a fun summer. In the most beautiful city, you are at the respected institution for science and space - the Technion, you are in the good hands of the Israel Space Agency."
"A lot of things happened behind the scenes. A few days ago I received a letter from one of the first graduates who wrote about a dream that came true. When we arrived in Houston in 1998, it was clear that we were going to represent the country, Ilan as a pilot wanted to represent the Air Force. But as soon as you enter the corridor of NASA, everything changes. You know people who made history. You feel that everyone is working for a higher purpose - and for the entire human race regardless of religion, race, belief and gender. Good people working for such an important cause to make the world a better place.

"When we were in Houston, Ilan learned a lot of things, including the educational aspect of the mission. NASA is routinely involved in education. We learned about the educational program, we wanted Israel to participate in it as well, and Ilan organized a class that polished mirrors for an international project, and also convinced students from Ort Motzkin to participate in what was the first experiment of students from Israel in space."

"It was important for me as an Israeli to continue to keep in touch with the space field. The agency does things from the diplomatic side, but I wanted to continue Ilan's tradition in education. Michael Porter, was the first to reveal the Space University to us. He insisted that there be Israeli students and with the help of friends and later also of the Space Agency and the Ministry of Science we were able to send so many good students to the university. They became important graduates in the field and that's what brought you (Space University) here."

"Ilan retired at the top"

From her last lectures, we will go back in time, to March 2003, A few days after the Columbia ferry crash.
At a press conference at her home in Houston, Ramon said: "Ilan retired at his peak. He was with the people he loved and in a place he enjoyed so much", "It was difficult for him to convey the feeling of levity and spirituality that jumped over him there", she added. She said that Ilan Ramon enjoyed every moment of his mission in space. "He was a very optimistic person, he didn't even write a will because it seemed unnecessary to him.
But we will continue with his living will. He had a smile and we will continue with the smile," she said.
Ramon said that upon landing she did not expect bad news. "We stood and waited for the landing. It was a wonderful day and the clock ticked down. When it reached ten seconds, we counted down, like at takeoff. We should have heard the supersonic booms, but they didn't. Fear started and then they took us and told us they didn't know what happened, but we already knew everything," said Ramon.

When Rona Ramon returned to her home in Houston, several e-mail messages from Ilan from his last day in space were waiting for her on her computer: one of them was a message of thanks to Shimon Peres, for helping to realize the Israeli astronaut's dream (being the prime minister after Rabin's murder), and the rest - personal messages to family members. "He meant to read them together," said Rona Ramon.

She also said that she had no bad feeling or fear during the days of Ilan's stay in space: "The only thing that bothers me so much right now is that during takeoff, when we were all at 'Hey,' our little daughter shouted, 'I lost my daddy (you are my father) She was probably right."

More of the topic in Hayadan:

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