American astronaut Joseph Tanner has a strong affinity for Israeli culture, history, and especially the food, as well as another great Israeli product - the late astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon, the country's first astronaut and one of the seven who perished when the Columbia space shuttle exploded in 2003. Ramon was "incredibly gracious and engaging. If you didn't like Ilan Ramon, you probably don't like anyone," Tanner said during a commemoration for Ramon at Metro West High School in Ra'anana. Tanner, a decorated NASA astronaut, was in Israel participating in the Fischer Institute's conference for Air and Space Strategic Studies. He attended a ceremony last week to share his experiences as an astronaut, and insights into aeronautical science and space exploration. Pupils, press, and others in attendance gained a unique view into the STS-115 mission to the international space station late last year. The mission - Tanner's fourth - left the Kennedy space station on September 9 to deliver new equipment to the station. The presentation included a video mission diary, film of the work conducted at the space station and the Atlantis shuttle, and breathtaking views of both earth and space. "The most exciting part of the space walk is coming out of the air lock and into space and realizing that it's a long way down," Tanner said. Tanner encouraged the idea of space becoming a less distant frontier. "I am very much in favor of the privatization of the space industry," Tanner said. "I hope the government will not hold exclusivity to space travel, and that more people get a chance to see outer space, the moon, and maybe - one day - Mars."