The Mitzpe Ramon Local Council and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority will dedicate a visitor center in memory of astronaut Ilan Ramon on Thursday.

In addition to serving as a portal for educating visitors about the Mitzpe Ramon site, the center will honor the legacy of Ramon, displaying his diaries, his space suit and other relics from the shuttle, the local council said.

The first Israeli astronaut, Ramon was killed during the reentry accident of the Columbia mission in 2003, during which the six other crew members also died.

The center will house the story of Ramon from the onset of his Israel Air Force service to the launch of his space shuttle to his last moments. While telling the story of Ramon himself, the exhibit also includes a large model of the space shuttle, in an effort to evoke the sense of readiness for the mission that Ramon underwent, the INPA said. An additional corner will be dedicated to Ramon’s son Asaf, who died in 2009 during a training accident while piloting his F- 16A.

Among the speakers at the inaugural event at noon on Thursday will be Ramon’s widow, Rona, Mitzpe Ramon Mayor Flora Shoshan and INPA Executive Director Shaul Goldstein.

“This is a historic moment in history for Mitzpe Ramon,” Shoshan said.

The visitor center will be situated on the edge of the Ramon crater, on the outskirts of the Mitzpe Ramon community, the INPA explained.

Overlooking the expansive landscape, the center will also serve as an entrance hall to the crater. The center will equip the visitors with extensive information about the area and the unique phenomenon that is the crater, as well as updated details about hiker etiquette required in nature, the INPA explained.

Part of the visitor center is carved out of the crater’s natural surface, the authority noted.

“Walking through the exposed rock walls evokes the feeling of power both of the natural rock and of the man made work integrated together here,” the INPA said.

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