A little flag with the logo of the new Ilan Ramon Scholarship Fund to sponsor Israeli students at International Space University (ISU) will soon be taken to space by US astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman, a Jew and close friend of the family of the Israel Air Force colonel who died in the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003. The flag represents the government’s commitment to teaching the younger Israeli generation science and technology, with an emphasis on space fields.
The fund works out of the Science and Technology Ministry, and the flag bears a symbol of the State of Israel and ISU, which is located in France.
Reisman – who shares a birthday with Assaf Ramon, Ilan and Rona Ramon’s son who died in an IDF flight accident last year, and is close to the family – is due to be launched in the Atlantis shuttle on Friday. It will be Reisman’s second flight on the shuttle, whose mission will last for three months. It is scheduled to reach the international space station and return to Earth. Two Ramon Fund flags will be taken to the space station, with one deposited there and the other brought home to Israel, the ministry says.
Reisman flew to Israel last summer to watch President Shimon Peres pin wings on Assaf Ramon’s uniform at his pilot graduation ceremony, and had“I Love Assaf” T-shirts printed. News of Ramon’s tragic death not long after came as a great shock.
As chairman of the fund, Rona Ramon has been invited to the launch as a guest of the heads of NASA.
ISU, located in Strasbourg, offers one-year master’s degrees and a summer program for students in the field of law and space policy; space engineering, cosmology, space medicine and space project management for students from around the world. Israelis who win the scholarships are given the opportunity to make personal connections with the next generation of leaders in the international space industry and absorb a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
In the last three years, eight Israelis have completed studies at ISU,
and most found work in the space and satellite industry here.
The Ilan Ramon Scholarship Fund was established by Michael Potter of
California, who served on ISU’s board of governors, in memory of the
fallen Israeli astronaut to encourage his young compatriots to become
interested in space activity. Science and Technology Minister Daniel
Herschkowitz headed an interministerial committee that required various
ministries to transfer NIS 1 million a year, divided equally, to the
fund from now and for the next decade.