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Items from the "Columbia" Have Landed in Israel Release date 02.02.2016
13 years after the "Columbia" Space Shuttle disaster: as requested by Rona Ramon and the Israel Space Agency, remains from the Israeli experiment were revealed today as part of the Israel Space Conference, which took place for the 11th time with the goal of promoting technological and space related education and in commemoration of Col. Ilan Ramon. " There is a natural tendency to make people symbols after they die, I knew Ilan and Assaf before their deaths and they were both symbols”
Zohar Boneh | Translated by: Ofri Aharon

In an emotional ceremony the remains of the Israeli experiment "MIDX" (Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment) which was conducted by late Col. Ilan Ramon and his team of astronauts on the "Columbia" space shuttle which crashed 13 years ago were revealed. The remains were brought to Israel as per a special request by the Israel Space Agency and by late Col. Ilan Ramon's widower, Rona Ramon. The "11th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference 'Space for Mankind's Future'" conference began with the revealing of the items.

"When I saw the remains of the "Columbia" Space Shuttle they were dispersed in a large hangar. We went through the items, which each have a special story, items that have a heart". Rona Ramon shared in the ceremony. "We also get to be part of the space shuttle and keep these pieces with a great amount of emotion. We can only take pride, take pride in our achievements until now and in the future we will have".

"The return of the equipment to Israel reminds us of a few things", stated US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, "the cooperation between our space agencies that brought the first Israeli astronaut to space, it reminds us of the common mourning that we felt that same horrific day in 2003 and still feel in memory of the ‘Columbia' and more than all it reminds and demonstrates our obligation to work together, and create even greater cooperations".

The remains of the system which operated the Israeli "MIDX" experiment were revealed today. The experiments goal was to study two meteorological phenomena: Dust storms and "Upper-Atmospheric Lightning". "Dust storms are much more than just dust that dirties the house", explained Professor Ze'ev Levine from Tel Aviv University, the head researcher of the "MIDX experiment. "They affect our health and the weather. Analyzing and understanding them can help develop more precise forecasts. The experiment is not the first that measured this phenomenon from space, however it is the first that integrated measurements from space in multiple frequencies from earth and space simultaneously, with the help of an IAF aircraft".


"In the past, Israel was a leading country only in the miniaturized satellites field. Today we are advancing, but in extremely measured steps", explained Brig. Gen. (Res.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the Fisher Institute, in the ceremony. According to him, countries such as Iran and China work differently, and advance in space exploration in great bounds. "Today, many fields that were once exclusive to a few superpowers - are reaching other countries, and Israel shouldn't stay behind" he continued, before an audience of all of the involved individuals, from dozens of scientists and researchers from around the country, the Director of the Israeli Space Agency, and to the Minister of Science, Technology and Space, Knesset Member Ofir Akunis. In his speech, Knesset Member Akunis shared that he will be traveling to the U.S for a tour of NASA with the Director of the Israeli Space Agency, "Where I will promote the idea of integrating an Israeli Astronaut in a NASA project".

They were both a symbol
The Chief of Air Staff, Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman shared in the conference, "I had the privilege of flying with Ilan Ramon in the "Scorpion" Squadron right before he left for Astronaut Course and I also had the honor of being Assaf's commander as Flight School Commander. There is a natural tendency to make people symbols after they die, I knew Ilan and Assaf before their deaths, and they were both symbols.