Bar-Ilan University Hosts Gathering to Plan Launch of Educational Center in Memory of Astronaut Ilan Ramon

A new educational center for space, technology and science, to be named in honor of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, is preparing for takeoff and Bar-Ilan University hosted the first meeting planning its launch.  Former NASA astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman and NASA Ames Research Center Chief Scientist Jacob Cohen, joined together on campus with senior officials from the Ramon Foundation and Bar-Ilan University, leading Israeli educators and academic scholars, and aerospace experts to discuss the venture.

Col. Ramon was a payload specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated upon re-entering the earth's atmosphere in February 2003.

The "Ramon Campus", to be established in the vicinity of Modi'in, will feature a scientific and educational center aimed at promoting science education and encouraging the emergence of groundbreaking ideas among youth and adults.  The project is being developed by the Ramon Foundation, which promotes personal and social excellence through space, flight, science and technology.

Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz held close ties with the Israel Space Agency during his tenure as Israeli Minister of Science and Technology and, in that capacity, became well acquainted with the Ramon family.  "Our life is a chain that cannot be disconnected.  The Sages say that righteous people never pass away because their influence continues to be felt.  This can be said of the late Ilan Ramon, who is a source of inspiration to children, scientists and industry alike. Ilan's wife Rona carries the torch, expressing this continuity through a variety of activities linked to the field of space exploration," said Prof. Hershkowitz, adding that Bar-Ilan University looks forward to collaborating with the Ramon Foundation in establishing the Ramon Campus.

Rona Ramon, Founder and President of the Ramon Foundation, expressed gratitude to all those gathered together in support of the initiative. "Our goal is to develop a project that will change the world. Space inspires youth.  It challenges them to explore their potential.  We have a beautiful dream and I hope that it will serve as a magnet to all those interested in space exploration and the advancement of science," she said.

Dr. Garrett Reisman, a close personal friend of Ilan and the Ramon family, spoke of his missions on the Space Shuttle Endeavour and on Atlantis.  "In thinking today about the establishment of the Ramon Campus, reach for the stars and beyond," Reisman, now a senior
engineer at the private spaceflight company SpaceX, advised the group.  "Don't think of what is easy to do, but what is hard to do.  John Kennedy's vision to get to the moon is a great example."

At the conclusion of the gathering, Prof. Hershkowitz presented a painting by the late Dr. Lydia Krunitsky, donated by the Institute for Biblical Research, depicting Ramon, Holocaust victim Petr Ginz, and a replica of a drawing by Ginz reflecting his vision of how the earth would look from the moon. Ramon, whose mother and grandmother survived Auschwitz, took a replica of Ginz's original drawing with him on the Columbia mission.