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Bio: Shuttle Columbia Payload Specialist Col. Ilan Ramon

Following is the biography of Col. Ilan Ramon, payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia, as found on the Kennedy Space Center's Web site:

ILAN RAMON (COLONEL, ISRAEL AIR FORCE)
PAYLOAD SPECIALIST

PERSONAL DATA: Forty-eight years old, born June 20,1954 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Married to Rona. They have four children. He enjoys snow skiing, squash. His parents reside in Beer Sheva, Israel.

EDUCATION: Graduated from High School in 1972; bachelor of science degree in electronics and computer engineering from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1987.

SPECIAL HONORS/AWARDS: Yom Kippur War (1973); Operation Peace for Galilee (1982); F-16 1,000 Flight Hours (1992).

EXPERIENCE: In 1974, Ramon graduated as a fighter pilot from the Israel Air Force (IAF) Flight School. From 1974-1976 he participated in A-4 Basic Training and Operations. 1976-1980 was spent in Mirage III-C training and operations. In 1980, as one of the IAF's establishment team of the first F-16 Squadron in Israel, he attended the F-16 Training Course at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. From 1981-1983, he served as the Deputy Squadron Commander B, F-16 Squadron. From 1983-1987, he attended the University of Tel Aviv. From 1988-1990, he served as Deputy Squadron Commander A, F-4 Phantom Squadron. During 1990, he attended the Squadron Commanders Course. From 1990-1992, he served as Squadron Commander, F-16 Squadron. From 1992-1994, he was Head of the Aircraft Branch in the Operations Requirement Department. In 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and assigned as Head of the Department of Operational Requirement for Weapon Development and Acquisition. He stayed at this post until 1998.

Colonel Ramon has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours on the A-4, Mirage III-C, and F-4, and over 1,000 flight hours on the F-16.

NASA EXPERIENCE: In 1997, Colonel Ramon was selected as a Payload Specialist. He is designated to train as prime for a Space Shuttle mission with a payload that includes a multispectral camera for recording desert aerosol. In July 1998, he reported for training at the Johnson Space Center, Houston. He is currently assigned to STS-107 scheduled to launch in 2003.