Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir spoke about the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, known for being the first Israeli astronaut, in an interview with Channel 12 this week.
In the interview, Meir spoke of both her Jewish and Israeli heritage, and shared what it was like for her during the Colombia Space Shuttle disaster, when Ramon and six other astronauts died upon his shuttle's re-entry to earth in 2003.
Meir had just started her career when the disaster occurred.
"I felt that loss very much, and it's something that we think about all the time, in everything that we do, I did fly with a coin and some other items from the Ramon Foundation as well as a painting that Rona [Ramon's wife] did," she said. Meir recently returned from seven months in space, and has made headline several times within the last year. She is well known for many reasons, but her Israeli heritage through her dad's side is often left out of her story.
Meir enjoys her connection to Israel and still has friend in the country. In March, she shared pictures of Tel Aviv from space on Twitter.
In April, she and two other astronauts from her mission spoke of what it was like to be in space during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in a live NASA broadcast. Additionally, the team shared quarantine advice for living with others in tight quarters.
During the broadcast, Meir spoke of returning to Earth during the pandemic. She said, "It will be difficult to not give hugs to family and friends after being up here for seven months," Meir added. "I think I will feel more isolated on Earth than here because it's expected up here."
She also spoke more optimistically of the pandemic. "We can try to find the silver linings and positive elements." Using an example of the connections that her friends and family have "been able to foster with loved ones," she says that the coronavirus pandemic has been able to bring "that innate human element out, reminding us of our priorities."
Meir had been in space for seven months before her return to space during the pandemic in April. At the beginning of her space mission, she made international headlines by partaking in the worlds first ever all woman space walk with astronaut Christina Koch.
In the interview with Channel 12 she spoke of the space walk.
"To me it doesn't really matter if I'm going outside with a man or another woman, I didn't expect there to be such a response, the interest and the enthusiasm that people showed, was overwhelming for us to see," she said.
Rona Ramon, Ilan Ramon's wife died in 2018 after losing a battle with pancreatic cancer. Rona and Ilan's eldest son Capt. Asaf Ramon was an IDF fighter pilot, inspired by his father who before his astronaut career was also an IDF fighter pilot.Asaf was tragically killed in 2003 at the age of 21 during a routine training operation when his F-16 crashed.