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April 5, 2022 2:37 pm
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Israeli Astronaut to Take Remains of Ilan Ramon’s Diary on Space Mission This Week

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Remains from Ilan Ramon’s diary. Photo: Courtesy.

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe will bring along diary fragments belonging to his air force pilot friend, the late astronaut Ilan Ramon, when he takes off on Israel’s historic “Rakia” space mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday.

Stibbe, a businessman and former fighter pilot who will become the second Israeli astronaut to travel into space, said the pages of Ramon’s diary are an “exceptionally special” item in the 1.5 kilogram case he is allowed to take into space. Other items Stibbe already packed include a Japanese peace bell, a glass cube inscribed with a prayer for the well-being of the State of Israel, a nano-bible, and a dreidel.

The Rakia mission is set to launch 19 years after Ramon was sent to space. He perished in the tragic Columbia space shuttle accident in 2003 alongside six fellow astronauts as they reentered earth.

In a blog entry on Monday, Stibbe described the diary remains as a “memento of the pain, the wonderful friendship that grew up between us, brothers in arms, and which developed into a soul-mate friendship between the families — and it symbolizes the dream of space travel.”

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Stibbe recounted that no one knew that Ramon even kept a personal journal in space until several weeks after the Columbia disaster, when a Native American tracker searching for remains of the shuttle in Texas found some crumbling pages with Hebrew writing.

Eight pages were retrieved from the diary, in which Ramon documented his experiences from the launch until his sixth day in space.

“The journal survived the 1,800-degree heat when the explosion happened while the shuttle was flying at an altitude of 60 km,” wrote Stibbe. “It made it down to Earth almost in one piece, just slightly singed.”

“On one of the pages, Ilan [wrote] the words of the Sabbath Eve Kiddush,” he added. “He even punctuated it so as not to mispronounce them. He named the journal simply: Astronaut’s Journal. Ilan Ramon.”

The ten-day Rakia mission, the first all-private trip to the space station, will set off with a total of four astronauts. During the mission, Stibbe will conduct more than 30 science and technology experiments for a number of universities and startups in Israel.

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