The Columbia space shuttle crashes killing all seven crewmembers, including Col. Ilan Ramon The Columbia space shuttle crashes

On Saturday, February 1st 2003, at 15:15 (Israel time) the Columbia shuttle initiates it’s descent into the earths atmosphere, panning to land in the Kennedy Space Center at 16:16. Examinations revealed that even at 15:33 the temperature meters on the shuttle’s left side had stopped one after the other to transmit data to the ground control center. At 16:00 all contact with the shuttle was lost.  Simultaneously, reports of a loud noise and a trail of burning trail of debris in the sky were beginning to be received in the states of Texas and Louisiana.

At 16:29 NASA declared an emergency and several hours later officially announced the loss of the shuttle and all of it’s crew members, including Col. Ilan Ramon. The president of the US, George Bush  called Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and expressed his condolences to the state and people of Israel.

Four days later, Ramon’s body was identified and on the 11th of February he was brought to the Nahalal cemetery. Followed by the disaster, NASA had appointment an investigation committee and decided to suspend all manned flights into space until it’s report. Several months later the committee concluded that a piece of isolation foam separated from the outer fuel tank during takeoff is the cause of the crash. The foam made an impact with the left wing’s ceramic isolation tiles thus reducing the wing’s ability to withstand the high temperatures, typical for an object penetrating the atmosphere. In addition, the committee concluded that even though the foam was the direct cause of the disaster – time schedule problems, political and budget pressures are all factors, which joined together to allow it.